2012 NBA Mock Draft: Ideal Match for Each Lottery Team
If your NBA team is projected to pick in the lottery portion of the 2012 NBA draft, you have come to the right place to find out who they should take.
The draft order is far from set, but if the season ended today, these 11 teams would make up the first 14 picks of the draft.
So who should each team ideally take? Looking at their current depth charts, who they're losing in free agency, the projected draft order and the rankings of draft prospects, I've determined the best players for each team.
Read on to find out who they are.
Note: Teams sorted alphabetically
The Charlotte Bobcats need help at almost every position—you could make an argument that Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo are the future at point guard and center—so they will be sorely disappointed if they aren't lining up with at least one unibrowed player next season.
Charlotte is clearly the worst team in the league and not drawing the No. 1 pick in the lottery would be terrible for the franchise.
Anthony Davis is hands down the best player in this draft class and has the ability to immediately help this lackluster squad.
Throughout the weeks and months leading up to the 2011 NBA draft, I said over and over again that Tristan Thompson was going to be a massive bust if he was picked in the top 10.
Thompson has done nothing to prove me wrong so far, but it's way too soon for the Cleveland Cavaliers to give up on him. With him and a healthy Anderson Varejao in the frontcourt, there's no way that Cleveland can justify taking a big man in the top five picks of the 2012 NBA draft, which is likely where they will be selecting.
The best guard in the draft class is pretty clearly Bradley Beal, the freshman from Florida who made a name for himself during the SEC Conference Tournament and then the ensuing NCAA Tournament.
Kyrie Irving is good enough as it is and he could insert his name among the truly elite point guards if he was given an upgraded option to join him in the backcourt.
Beal has been compared to Ray Allen by quite a few people, but honestly that comparison is a lazy one. He's his own player, lacking the knock-down three-point shot that Allen possessed but more athletic and physical that the all-time leading shooter from downtown ever was.
The Detroit Pistons have taken a step forward this season, but in order to take that next step and compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, they're going to have to add at least one more piece.
Greg Monroe has blossomed into a stud at center this season, and I still maintain that he was snubbed for the All-Star Game and was much more deserving of a reserve spot than Roy Hibbert. But he'll be even better if the Pistons add a good young player at power forward and take some of the defensive attention in the post away from him.
To go along with Monroe's great offensive abilities, John Henson would be the ideal fit here. He's a great shot-blocker and low-post defender with developing skills on offense.
The Pistons should be picking towards the back end of the top 10, so it's kind of a toss up whether or not the former North Carolina Tar Heel will still be available. If he's not, they should look to Henson's old frontcourt mate Tyler Zeller.
If you think that the Milwaukee Bucks are drafting a guard in the lottery with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis already on the roster, then you're out of your mind.
Their best option is to go with small forward around pick No. 10 and let Drew Gooden, Ersan Ilyasova and Ekpe Udoh comprise the big man rotation for the 2012-2013 season.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes are the top two options at small forward, but there's absolutely no chance that Kidd-Gilchrist falls to No. 10. There's a slight chance that Barnes' stock drops all the way down to where he's available to the Bucks, but that's highly unlikely as well.
If Barnes does plummet on draft day, the Bucks should not hesitate to snatch him up. But if he doesn't, Terrence Jones might be their next-best option. He was more of a power forward for the Kentucky Wildcats, but with his skill set, he's going to wind up playing small forward at the NBA level.
New Orleans Hornets (Two Picks)
Thanks to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the New Orleans Hornets will be making two selections in the lottery of this year's above-average draft.
While the first pick could be as high as first overall, the second one looks to be towards the later section of the lottery.
Chris Kaman will be an unrestricted free agent, and Eric Gordon is a restricted free agent with no guarantee to return to the Hornets. As a result, the Hornets could use some help at every single position and will be looking to employ the "best player available" strategy.
Obviously they would like to land Anthony Davis with the first pick of the draft, but coming in at No. 3 is a more likely scenario. Therefore, I'm making Michael Kidd-Gilchrist their ideal target with the first pick.
With the second, which will most likely come in around No. 11, they'll be targeting a big man to shore up their frontcourt. The New Orleans brass should be crossing their fingers that Perry Jones III manages to slip down that far.
With Steve Nash potentially testing the waters of unrestricted free agency, Ronnie Price joining him, Aaron Brooks going with the restricted free agency option and Sebastian Telfair being Sebastian Telfair, it's time for the Phoenix Suns to find their new franchise point guard.
Drafting towards the end of the lottery, they'll have the perfect opportunity to do so and may get to choose between Kendall Marshall and Damian Lillard.
After letting Nash run the show for so long, it seems as though the Phoenix management would have to lean towards the pass-first point guard in this situation.
Portland Trail Blazers (Two Picks)
The Portland Trail Blazers are owed the New Jersey Nets' first-round pick this year, so they'll end up having a pick around No. 7 from that followed by their own, which will likely land around No. 12.
With Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford (if he declines his player option) and Jonny Flynn all unrestricted free agents, the Blazers need to add a point guard during the draft. Because of the relative weakness of the floor generals in this class, they will do that with the second of their two picks.
The two best options in this position are Kendall Marshall and Damian Lillard—two players that couldn't be any more different from each other. Marshall is the best facilitator in the country, but struggles to create his own shot. Conversely, Lillard is a score-first guard with a great all-around game.
Without a ton of elite offensive options, Lillard seems like he would be the better fit to play alongside LaMarcus Aldridge and company.
As for the earlier pick, that one brings a lot more freedom with it. Going with John Henson and converting either him or Aldridge to center, much like the Atlanta Hawks have done with Al Horford, would seem to be the best fit here.
With Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, Terrence Williams, Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette already on the roster, the Sacramento Kings wouldn't be able to justify drafting a guard with their first pick of the 2012 NBA draft.
Fortunately, the only guard projected to go around their inevitable selection at No. 5, No. 6 or so is Bradley Beal, so they aren't losing out on too many players.
You're going to have to get used to seeing this on the next few slides, but Thomas Robinson is the ideal match for this squad.
Pairing the Kansas star with DeMarcus Cousins in the frontcourt would make opposing big men quiver in fear the night before they are scheduled to line up against the Kings.
If we assume that something goes right for the Toronto Raptors and they overcome the odds to land the No. 1 pick in the draft, there's no doubt that they take Anthony Davis and leave the stage with ear-to-ear grins.
But more realistically, Canada's lone representative in the NBA will walk away with the fourth pick.
Toronto can live with a backcourt comprised of Jose Calderon and DeMar DeRozan, but their frontcourt needs some series renovating. If Thomas Robinson happens to fall to them, they will be overjoyed.
The former Jayhawk, who was only beat out by Anthony Davis for the Player of the Year awards, might not have the upside of Andre Drummond, but he's much more of a sure thing and should be able to help turn things around for the Raptors right off the bat.
If his energy and hustle are contagious, good things will happen for the rest of the roster.
The Washington Wizards are in a bit of a pickle here because they'll be the favorites to land the No. 2 overall selection in the 2012 NBA draft, but they would be better off picking at No. 3 and paying a slightly decreased salary.
Andre Drummond and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are the favorites to go behind Anthony Davis in the draft, but neither fulfills a true need for the Wizards. After all, they just traded for Nene Hilario to shore up the center position and drafted two small forwards last year—Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton.
The position they need the most help at is power forward, and Thomas Robinson is clearly the second-best player at that position in this year's draft class.
Utah Jazz (Two Picks)
The Utah Jazz are getting one pick from the Golden State Warriors and they will have another in the lottery unless they somehow manage to sneak into the playoffs.
As it stands, they will pick in the final moments of the lottery and go right around No. 10.
The Jazz are completely loaded at power forward (Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors) and center (Al Jefferson and Enes Kanter), so it would be illogical for them to draft what is, unfortunately for them, this class' best positions. They will be sticking to the backcourt unless Harrison Barnes or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist somehow manages to fall into their hands.
If they can manage to land Jeremy Lamb and Kendall Marshall, they will be completely set and ready to make noise out West. I know that the Jazz like Alec Burks, but they like Gordon Hayward and their frontcourt more. At some point they have to make a tough decision and this is it.
Lamb is a great scorer and will fit in well with a team that draws a lot of defensive attention on the inside. And surrounded by four NBA-level scorers at all times, Marshall could very well average near double-digits in assists as a rookie if he's handed the reins from the get-go.