The 2012 NBA Draft will officially take place Thursday June 28, 2012, in New Jersey. Instead of putting together a series of mock drafts that need to be revised countless times as different rumors and details leak, I figured it would make more sense to compile all of the information and do a solitary mock just a day before the draft to prepare you all for the event:
1.) New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis (6’10″, 222), PF Kentucky – This pick is as set in stone as any pick can be prior to the official announcement. Davis isn’t much of an offensive threat to this point, but as he continues to grow into his frame he could (and should) develop into a 18-22 ppg scorer. Where he excels in defensively and on the boards, where Davis should make an impact from day 1.
2.) Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson (6’9″, 244), PF Kansas - Robinson may actually be better prepared to help an NBA team more immediately that Davis. Robinson can knock down a 15-18 foot jumper from the PF position, rebounds with aggression and plays the game with a great passion, something the young Bobcats can definitely use. Some are thinking Bradley Beal here, but with Charlotte acquiring Ben Gordon drafting Beal is highly unlikely. I think Charlotte opts for a front court player to compliment their young crop of perimeter players (Kemba Walker, Gordon, Gerald Henderson).
3.) Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal (6’5″, 202), SG Florida – Despite not shooting as well as many thought he would last season, Bradley Beal still had a very solid freshman campaign. The Wizards trading for Trevor Ariza (who’s under contract for the next 2 seasons) leads me to believe they would rather compliment John Wall’s penetration ability with a guard capable of stretching the floor than go for a work in progress such as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Beal fit in with a Florida lineup of gunners and should be able to do the same at the pro level. He’s also a great rebounder for a guard (6.7 rpg last season).
4.) Cleveland Cavaliers: Harrison Barnes (6’8″, 228), SF North Carolina - Cleveland is in desperate need of offense to help last season’s ROY Kyrie Irving and they would love for Beal to fall to them here, but that seems highly unlikely. I see the Cavs opting for a proven scorer in Barnes over the potential of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The knock on Barnes has been that he can’t carry a team, but playing with Irving he can settle into a secondary role and could thrive in it. Barnes is also a tested as a better athlete than most anticipated (39.5″ vertical, 15 bench reps, 3.16 sprint at the combine.)
5.) Sacramento Kings: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (6’7″, 233), SF Kentucky - The Kings are in a tough spot here. They need help up front, have a plethora of wing players and are inexperienced in the backcourt. Damian Lillard is a hot name and has been the only top prospect to work out for Sac besides Andre Drummond, but I doubt the Kings go in that direction. Tyreke Evans is rumored to want out, so I think the Kings go with Kidd-Gilchrist as their SF of the future. Francisco Garcia is in the last guaranteed year of his deal, so if the Kings trade Evans that would open up minutes for MKG long term.
6.) Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard (6’3″, 189) PG Weber State - Portland is in desperate need for a point guard. There will be some nice options in free agency, but the Trail Blazers may be better served to take Lillard as a scoring PG to compliment LaMarcus Aldridge. The Blazers are also in need of a big but can get a serviceable one with their pick at #11. Lillard has the most star potential of any PG in the draft, so it’s doubtful Portland lets him slip past them.
7.) Golden State Warriors: Andre Drummond (7’0, 279), C UConn - The Warriors flew to NY earlier to week to watch Drummond work out, and while he may be the biggest risk in the draft Drummond has a ton of athleticism and potential, if he’s willing to work to reach it. The Warriors picked up Andrew Bogut in the Monta Ellis trade, but the depth chart up front is thin after Andris Biebrins. GS may have to roll the dice with Drummond and pray for the best.
8.) Toronto Raptors: Dion Waiters (6’4″, 221) SG Syracuse - Toronto has a nice group of wing scorers to choose from here, with Austin Rivers, Waiters and Jeremy Lamb all still on the board. I have a feeling Waiters would be the selection, as his ability to score in a number of ways and aggressive nature would be a great fit in the back court with Jose Calderon. Waiters would also allow the Raptors to move DeRozan to his more natural SF position. Waiters reminds a little of a young Dwyane Wade with a better jumper. He could be a steal.
9.) Detroit Pistons: John Henson (6’11″, 216), PF/C North Carolina – Detroit needs help for Greg Monroe upfront, especially defensively. Henson was the two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year, so on paper this looks like a match made in basketball heaven. Henson still needs to add some bulk to his lanky frame but that shouldn’t lead the Pistons to shy away from the second-best shot blocker in the draft.
10.) New Orleans Hornets: Austin Rivers (6’5″, 203), G Duke - Rivers can score in bunches and showed an ability to play some PG at Duke, so New Orleans could use him as a back-up to both Jarrett Jack and Eric Gordon next season (if Gordon returns). If Rivers proves capable of playing the point on an NBA level, he could step into the starting role in a year when Jack hits free agency. A nucleus of Davis/Gordon/Rivers could be lethal in a few years. Not to mention Hornets coach Monty Williams is close friends with Doc Rivers, Austin’s father.
11.) Portland Trail Blazers: Tyler Zeller (7’0″, 247), C North Carolina - In this scenario, the Blazers opted for a point guard at no. 6 so conventional wisdom says they opt for a big with this pick. Zeller is better and more athletic than most think and would be a nice compliment to Aldridge in the middle.
12.) Houston Rockets: Kendall Marshall (6’4″, 198), PG North Carolina - The Rockets will most like trade two of their three first round picks, but if they keep this pick in this scenario Marshall would be a good bet for Houston. Kyle Lowry is under contract for a few more seasons but back-up Goran Dragic is an unrestricted free agent, and Marshall is the best pure passer in the draft that could eventually take over for the smaller Lowry.
13.) Phoenix Suns: Terrence Ross (6’7″, 197), G/F Washington - Someone in the lottery is going to take Ross and my best guess in this scenario is Phoenix. Ross is one of the better pure scorers and shooters in the draft and his game may be well prepped for the pros after playing for Lorenzo Romar with the Huskies. Kendall Marshall could be an option here to replace Steve Nash, but Ross’ athleticism and ability to put points on the board may be too much to pass up.
14.) Milwaukee Bucks: Meyers Leonard (7’1″, 250), C Illinois - The Bucks traded the 12th pick to the Rockets for this pick and Sam Dalembert, but I still believe they go with a big here to fill the void in the middle left by the Bogut trade to the Warriors. Leonard is athletic, mobile and skilled enough to be a solid NBA starter if given minutes to develop, and it Milwaukee’s short front line the 7-footer should get plenty of minutes to learn on the fly.
15.) Philadelphia 76ers: Jared Sullinger (6’9″, 268), PF Ohio State - Medical red flags have caused Sullinger’s stock to drop a bit but I can’t see him falling out of the top 15. Sullinger is an excellent rebounder, has shown the ability to knock down 20 foot jumpers and has a chip on his shoulder. The Sixers play at a pace that may suit Sullinger’s game and he could be a great replacement for Elton Brand after Brand’s contract comes off the books after next season.
16.) Houston Rockets: Moe Harkless (6’9″ 207), SF St. John’s - Many were skeptical of Harkless’s decision to turn pro after his freshman season but with the way he’s been climbing up draft boards his decision is now looking like really good. Harkless played out of position as a PF last season but he has flashed some nice perimeter skills in workouts. The Rockets don’t have much on the wing, so Harkless would have a chance to establish himself if he can hit jumpers consistently enough to keep defenses honest (unless this pick is traded, of course).
17.) Dallas Mavericks: Terrence Jones (6’9″, 252), PF Kentucky - The Mavs are in a difficult spot here as they need help in multiple positions (PG, SG, C) and most of the mid-lottery prospects for their positions of need are already off the board. I think they opt for the best player on the board with Jones, who’s versatility can be an immediate asset for the Mavs. If motivated, Terrence Jones has the potential to be one of the 3 best players in this draft. Slipping to the late teens may be just the motivation he needs.
18.) Houston Rockets: Arnett Moultrie (6’11″, 233), PF/C Mississippi State - Again, the Rockets have the luxury of taking the best player available, if they keep this pick. Moultrie is a high motor power forward with enough size to play center and can play facing the basket. Not bad value here.
19.) Orlando Magic: Andrew Nicholson (6’9″, 234), PF/C St. Bonaventure - Nicholson is coming off a very solid senior season, where he flashed a nice post game that the Magic can use to replace Dwight Howard in the middle (if Howard is traded before the season). Nicholson is a bit undersized for the center position but has a 7’4″ wingspan that should dispel any doubts about his ability to defend the post in the NBA.
20.) Denver Nuggets: Evan Fournier (6’7″, 204), G/F France - The Nuggets are thin at point guard behind Ty Lawson but are also lacking at the wing position. Fournier isn’t very athletic but has good basketball IQ, can shoot the ball and can play a couple positions. The Nuggets usually are money with their mid round picks and I believe Fournier will be no different.
21.) Boston Celtics: Royce White (6’8″, 261), PF Iowa State - The Celtics need to reload in a major way with their “big three” aging and two-thirds hitting free agency. Kevin Garnett will most likely return but the Celtics top priority should be to add a potential successor. Royce White has a lot of skill for a PF, is a solid rebounder and passer but will need to work on his shooting to become a productive rotation player sooner rather than later.
22.) Boston Celtics: Fab Melo (7’0″, 255), C Syracuse - Melo may not be much of a finished product offensively, but he has solid defensive attributes, runs the floor well for a big man and still has room to improve on the offensive end, having only played basketball for six years. The Celtics can use all the size they can get up front and Melo may be thrown in to action right away because of the defensive prowess he showed while anchoring Syracuse’s zone.
23.) Atlanta Hawks: Will Barton (6’6″, 174), G/F Memphis - First things first; Barton needs to add a little strength to be able to compete in the NBA. Besides, that, Barton can really play. He can score in a variety of ways, handle the ball and actually rebounds well despite his lanky frame. The Hawks are rumored to like him a lot, so at 23 he’s a good value pick.
24.) Cleveland Cavaliers: Quincy Miller (6’10″, 219), F Baylor - Miller had the potential to be a lottery selection if he would have returned to Baylor for his sophomore season. In this mock I have the Cavs taking another SF in the top 5, but Miller’s skill set in the mid-range and high post area could be a nice compliment to Barnes’s outside shooting and Kyrie Irving’s ability to penetrate. Miller is still recovering from a HS knee injury so he has a ton of upside. If he can put on 10 or so lbs the Cavs could be dangerous in a couple years.
25.) Memphis Grizzlies: Doron Lamb (6’5″, 199), SG Kentucky - The Grizzlies need more outside shooting and more scorers on the perimeter to compliment their strong inside game. Lamb is one of the better shooters and has a championship pedigree coming from Kentucky. He’s a solid pick in the mid-twenties and a good fit for the Grizzlies.
26.) Indiana Pacers: Tony Wroten (6’6″, 203), PG/SG Washington - Wroten needs a lot of work on his jump shot but his ability to penetrate and the size he offers from the PG position may be too good to pass up for the Pacers, who could lose George Hill in free agency. Wroten can learn the ropes from Darren Collison. Marquis Teague may also be a name to watch here.
27.) Miami Heat: Festus Ezeli (6’11″, 264), C Vanderbilt - Fresh off their second NBA championship, the Heat should look to fill an immediate need for their lineup by taking Ezeli to plug up the middle. He has some back-to-the-basket skill and can offer size in paint to the undersized Miami front line.
28.) Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green (6’7″, 236) F Michigan State - Draymond Green may have the best basketball IQ of any forward in this year’s draft and is a jack of all trades. He’s crafty in the post, can handle the basketball well for his size, shoots the jumper well enough and is a very good passer. Green can offer the Thunder a little of what they lost when they traded Jeff Green to the Celtics. Draymond Green is a steal at this stage in the draft.
29.) Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins (6’4″, 212), G Vanderbilt - John Jenkins is without question the best shooter in this year’s draft class. The Bulls are in dire need of a knockdown spot-up shooter to pair with Derrick Rose when he returns from injury, and Jenkins fits the bill perfectly. Jenkins also is a better athlete than advertised and should be able to contribute right away.
30.) Golden State Warriors: Tyshawn Taylor (6’4″, 177), PG Kansas - Athletically, Taylor is one of the top guards in the draft this year and he had a great senior season running the show for the national championship runner-up Jayhawks. Taylor’s slashing style would be a nice change of pace to Steph Curry, and the Warriors could even feature a deadly three-guard rotation with Taylor, Curry and Klay Thompson all on the court at the same time. Marquis Teague is also a name to watch here.