2012 NBA Mock Draft
Jacob Freedman: Surprise! The Hornets lucked out in the draft lottery and get the undisputed top player in this year’s draft when it comes to both playing ability and terrible facial hair decisions. Davis is long and loves to block shots, gobbles up rebounds, and uses his athleticism to maneuver his way for easy baskets in the paint.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson (PF – Kansas; 6’9, 244) –
Will Robinson: The Bobcats need scoring. Bad. And while grabbing UNC’s Harrison Barnes would be mildly hilarious due to Michael Jordan’s Tar Heel ties (and could happen now that Corey Maggette was shipped out), Robinson adds a much-needed low-post threat that will immediately improve upon a non-existent Charlotte inside game. No offense, Byron Mullens. (Editor’s Note: Thomas and Will are not related.)
3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal (SG – Florida; 6’5, 202) –
Max Meyer: After bolstering their frontcourt by trading for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, the Wizards are now left with one hole on their roster, at shooting guard. Beal is the phenomenal perimeter shooter that the Wizards are looking for. After a slow start in his freshman year at Florida, his game really shined come SEC and NCAA tournament time.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Harrison Barnes (SF – North Carolina; 6’8, 228) –
Freedman: I still expect the Cavaliers to make efforts to trade up to No. 2 to take Bradley Beal up until the last second, but they’ll be happy with Barnes. The Cavs need scorers, and Barnes’ lethal shooting accuracy will make him a perfect sidekick for point guard Kyrie Irving.
Robinson: I can’t believe MKG fell to Sacramento. For the second time in three years, the Kings get the second-best player in the draft. I’ve already pre-ordered my No. 14 Kidd-Gilchrist retro gold jersey. He plays defense, a current rarity in Sactown. Sign me up for the 18-year-old wunderkind.
6. Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard (PG – Weber State; 6’3, 189)
Meyer: The Blazers' biggest holes are a point guard and a big man, and luckily for them, they have two lottery picks to fix these weaknesses. Don't be fooled by the fact that Lillard went to Weber State. He is an athletic point guard who has a great shot, along with a good feel for distributing the ball. He is the top point guard in the draft, and the Blazers certainly owe the Nets for giving them this pick in return for a half season of Gerald Wallace.
7. Golden State Warriors: Dion Waiters (SG – Syracuse; 6’4, 221) –
Robinson: After shipping Monta Ellis to Milwaukee for Andrew Bogut, a hole appeared in the Golden State lineup. So bring in another smallish two-guard! Waiters isn’t a stellar prospect, but he shot at a high percentage last year at Syracuse. He’s a pretty safe bet.
8. Toronto Raptors: Jeremy Lamb (SG – Connecticut; 6’5, 179) –
Aaron Fischman: Looking to the future, Toronto’s most glaring weakness will be the point guard position, as current PG Jose Calderon will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Unfortunately after PG Lillard and combo guard Waiters, there’s a huge drop-off in talent. Instead of “reaching” for Kendall Marshall, the Raptors would be smart to snatch up the best scorer in the draft (Lamb). DeMar DeRozan can always move to SF, if need be.
9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson (PF – North Carolina; 6’10, 216) -
Robinson: Henson is a lanky big out of ‘NC who has a penchant for blocking shots. Plugging him into the Detroit frontcourt to complement center Greg Monroe would be a wise move for general manager Joe Dumars.
10. New Orleans Hornets: Andre Drummond (C – Connecticut; 7’0, 279) –
Freedman: The “Andre and Anthony Show” has a nice ring to it in New Orleans. If Drummond somehow falls to the 10th pick, New Orleans will utilize his size to move Davis to his ideal position of power forward, then watch as every shot within five feet of the basket is promptly swatted back to where it came from. Drummond is streaky and a project, but can be molded into a top center if he wants to be.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Meyers Leonard (C – Illinois; 7’1, 250) –
Meyer: After just missing out on their two biggest targets to fill their athletic big man hole, the Blazers will happily take Leonard as a consolation prize. He has great NBA size and his rebounding and shot-blocking are major strengths. He and LaMarcus Aldridge will form a very intriguing big man combination.
Freedman: The 6’7” Ross would give the Bucks size at the shooting guard spot behind 6’ 3” Monta Ellis. Ross will not be a star, but he can make big plays and put in the effort on defense, a skill Ellis severely lacks.
[Update, 2 p.m. PT: The Houston Rockets have acquired the 12th pick, Jon Brockman, Jon Leuer and Shaun Livingston from the Bucks in exchange for Samuel Dalembert and the 14th overall pick.]
13. Phoenix Suns: Austin Rivers (SG – Duke; 6’5, 203) –
Fischman: Kendall Marshall is a decent option with the No. 13 pick, considering that Steve Nash may not be back with the Suns this upcoming season. Then again, Austin Rivers has the potential to be a franchise player; Marshall does not. Rivers’ game is still maturing. Once he improves his shot selection and overall decision-making, Rivers can be a perennial All-Star at the next level.
14. Houston Rockets: Tyler Zeller (C – North Carolina; 7’0, 247) –
Salomon Fuentes: I'd be stunned if the Rockets ended up keeping any of their picks come Thursday, but if they do they'll need size and Tyler Zeller is exactly that. Neither Samuel Dalembert nor Marcus Camby is a long-term solution and Zeller could definitely step in to fill the ever-large void Yao Ming left behind.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Perry Jones III (PF – Baylor; 6’11, 234) –
Meyer: The 76ers need a big man, so they make a gamble here with Jones. He is extremely athletic and talented, but questions about his motor and toughness take him out of the lottery. However, coach Doug Collins is a disciplinarian and if he can push the right buttons on Jones, the 76ers add a big piece to their already scary young core.
16. Houston Rockets: Jared Sullinger (PF – Ohio State; 6’9, 268) –
Fuentes: Where other teams see risk, Daryl Morey sees opportunity. Sullinger will drop here solely on concerns about his back, but he has lottery pick-talent and he's a steal at this point in the draft.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Kendall Marshall (PG - North Carolina; 6’4, 198) –
Fischman: While it’s true that Marshall’s draft stock has been slipping in recent weeks, one thing that cannot be disputed is Marshall’s high basketball IQ. He also possesses excellent ball-handling skills and stellar court vision. Marshall is not the most athletic guy, but he would be great feeding the ball to guys like Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry.
Robinson: After shipping out Chase Budinger for this pick, Houston is without a swingman. No more! Harkless adds another three-point marksman to the squad, adequately filling in for the departed Budinger.
19. Orlando Magic: Will Barton (SG – Memphis; 6’6, 174) –
Freedman: Barton is everything incumbent SG Jason Richardson used to be - a physical specimen who can either catch fire from outside or spring towards the hoop. The top centers are off the board, so the Magic could do worse than become more athletic with a guy who averaged more than 18 points and eight rebounds last year.
20. Denver Nuggets: Arnett Moultrie (PF – Mississippi State; 6’11, 233) –
Meyer: The Nuggets don't really have any glaring weaknesses thanks to their fantastic depth. However, with big man Javale McGee being a restricted free agent, they could use some insurance in their frontcourt. Moultrie is a strong interior defender and a good mid-range shooter for a big man.
21. Boston Celtics: Terrence Jones (PF – Kentucky; 6’9, 252) -
Fischman: Uncertainty looms over the Celtics this offseason, but this is certain: The center position is the Celtics’ biggest area of need. For that reason, the C’s could take Fab Melo with one of their consecutive picks. Yeah, they couuuld, but how could they pass on a guy like Terrence Jones if he is still on the board after 20 picks? His versatility and NBA-readiness may be incredibly difficult to turn down if he falls into Boston’s lap.
22. Boston Celtics: Quincy Miller (SF – Baylor; 6’10, 219) –
Fischman: I expect the Celtics to take a small forward with one of these two picks and Quincy Miller or Royce White will likely be the one. White is the more polished player, but he comes with past legal problems and an anxiety disorder. While White’s game and body are widely regarded as NBA-ready, Miller is just oozing with potential. Either way, it would be hard for the Leprechauns to go wrong.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Tony Wroten Jr. (PG – Washington; 6’5, 205) –
Meyer: The Hawks don't have a lot of point guard depth outside Jeff Teague, so they select the very athletic, Wroten Jr. While he has an inconsistent shot, Wroten Jr. can drive to the rim and possesses great court vision, along with tremendous potential.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Fab Melo (C- Syracuse; 7’0, 255) –
Freedman: The last Brazilian center the Cavs picked up worked out pretty well with Anderson Varejao. Unfortunately, the real-life doppelganger of Sideshow Bob has been hit by injuries the past two seasons, so the Cavs would benefit down the road from Melo’s size, (raw) athleticism, and terrific shot-blocking potential if the Syracuse product can better avoid the foul trouble that plagued him in college.
Fischman: Position by position, the Grizzlies are one of the most balanced teams in the league. It’s also true that the team has committed a great deal of money to Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Marc Conley Jr. To avoid paying another player this season and simply because the team doesn’t need much immediate help, expect Memphis to go the international route. It makes sense. Fournier is only 19 years old, but already averaged 14 points per game in just his second year of pro ball.
26. Indiana Pacers: Royce White (SF –Iowa State; 6’8, 261) –
Robinson: Indiana would be stoked to pick up Royce White here. A guy who can bang bodies down low and step out to drain the occasional three. He adds some versatility to their offense.
27. Miami Heat: Festus Ezeli (C – Vanderbilt; 6’11, 264) –
Meyer: With Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony as their primary centers, it's easy to say that the Heat need more height at center. Ezeli has an incredible wingspan at just under 7-foot-6 and is terrific on the defensive side of the ball.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green (PF – Michigan State; 6’8, 236) –
Freedman: Green will not wow you with any specific skill, but he would be an ideal pickup to become a leader off the bench. Green has a team-first attitude, can play either forward spot, and would contribute around 15-20 minutes a night in any facet he can.
29. Chicago Bulls: Marquis Teague (PG – Kentucky; 6’2, 180) –
Fischman: With Derrick Rose sidelined for the foreseeable future, drafting a point guard would make sense. Admittedly, Teague would be a project, but an extremely quick, athletic project.
30. Golden State Warriors: Jeff Taylor (SF – Vanderbilt; 6’7, 213) -
Robinson: The Warriors strengthen the middle of their team with another swingman. He shot the three well at Vanderbilt, and a team can never have too many long-range shooters (even if the Warriors appear to be approaching that level).
*The real thing will be televised on ESPN on Thursday, June 28 at 4 p.m. PST.