2012 NBA Mock Draft: Lottery Picks Under the Most Pressure

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2012

As with every NBA draft, college basketball stars get ready for a new chapter in their life, and some will be placed under a microscope, forced to live up to a great deal of hype. 

Some of these prospects will rise to the occasion and prove they were worthy of being a top pick, but like each draft, others will bust and never amount to much at the next level. 

It's not easy handling the heat that comes with being one of the best college athletes, but it gets worse as a player tries to become an elite NBA stud. 

That being said, here's my 2012 NBA mock draft with info on each pick and a more in-depth look at those players under the most pressure.


1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky

Davis dominated the college basketball scene all season long, and no matter which team ends up with the No. 1 pick, they're going to select him. 

Since he's widely considered the consensus top overall player, the pressure to live up to all the hype will be extremely immense. 

No other prospect will face the same amount of pressure that Davis will have to endure. He has the skills to be greater than many expect, but with all eyes on him constantly, it could be difficult to reach his full potential, especially if the team that drafts him doesn't surround him with solid talent. 


2. Washington Wizards: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky  

Other than Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist was the most dynamic freshman this past season. He seemingly came out of nowhere, dominating at will for the Wildcats. 

Regarded as the top small forward in the draft, Kidd-Gilchrist will be under scrutiny as a rookie. Much is expected of this relentless player, and having to be in the spotlight like that will be hard on such a young athlete. 

He may decide to return to Kentucky, but if he declares, Kidd-Gilchrist will be under a lot of pressure as he embarks on a new journey. 


3. New Orleans Hornets: Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas

After terrorizing opposing teams with ease this past season, Robinson is sure to be a top pick in the draft. 

He led the nation in double-doubles, showing that he plays with great intensity. Achieving the same production at the next level will be hard, but it is something that will be expected of Robinson.

Because of that, he'll be under a ton of pressure as he strives to be an NBA elite.  


4. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, C, UConn

This is somewhat of a reach here, but the Kings need an extra big to pair with the plethora of solid guard play they have. 


5. Toronto Raptors: Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina

Barnes could have been a high pick a year ago, but he decided to return to college in hopes of winning a championship. The Raptors need a strong forward to help them win, and Barnes can be just that guy. 


6. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, SG, Florida

The Cavs need another scorer to combine with Kyrie Irving, and Beal is easily the best shooting guard in the draft. 


7. Portland Trail Blazers (via NJ): Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina

The Blazers have to add youth to their roster, especially in the frontcourt. Getting a powerful rebounded like Zeller will greatly help the team. 


8. Detroit Pistons: Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State

Sullinger would have been up for the top overall pick a year ago had he declared, but he chose to stay in school. It hurt his draft stock some since more star players are up for grabs this year. 

The hype around Sullinger has always been big, but living up to it may harder than one realizes.

Sullinger's skills will be under watch for several months, and once he sets foot in the NBA,  he'll have a great deal of weight on his shoulders. 


9. Utah Jazz (via GS): Damian Lillard, PG, Weber St

It's not a very strong point guard class this year, but the Jazz are in dire need of depth at the position, and Lillard has the chance to be a big-time starter when all is said and done. 


10. New Orleans Hornets (via MINN): Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina

Life without Chris Paul isn't very good for the Hornets, but bringing in Marshall to run the show will help turn things around. He's not anywhere close to the level Paul was at when he entered the league, but Marshall does have the skills to make New Orleans a better team. 


11. Portland Trail Blazers: Austin Rivers, G, Duke

With his dad being an NBA coach, Rivers has had many eyes on his basketball talents since he was a child. 

After one year in college, the hype around Rivers has continued to grow, and it will only continue to get bigger as draft day draws near. 

Aside from Anthony Davis, Rivers is easily the prospect under the most pressure. There's a chance he doesn't land in the lottery, but since the guard class is not as stellar as previous years, Rivers will find his way into the top 14. 


12. Milwaukee Bucks: Perry Jones III, PF, Baylor

Jones had his ups and downs during his short college career, but he has the talent to be a force in the league as a great overall player. 


13. Utah Jazz: Jeremy Lamb, SG, UConn

Lamb is a scorer, which the Jazz could definitely use. They continue to help their backcourt with the addition of Lamb. 


14. Phoenix Suns: Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois

The Suns really need a point guard, but the top ones are taken, which means they'd be reaching on one here at No. 14. Leonard is a bit raw and needs work, but with no point guard worth being selected here, the Suns won't pass on the chance to add size to their roster. 


15. Houston Rockets (via NY): John Henson, PF, North Carolina

Henson is a hard-working player who never quits. Houston will love his attitude about the game, as well as his great abilities on the defensive end of the court. 


16. Philadelphia 76ers:  Terrence Ross, SG, Washington

Ross will help the 76ers become a better team from beyond the arc, as he is a phenomenal shooter. 


17. Denver Nuggets: Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky

The Nuggets will give their team superb depth by adding Jones in the mix. He's a strong forward who gives it his all on the court and will only keep getting better. 


18. Dallas Mavericks: Tony Wroten, PG, Washington

Wroten was a stellar freshman guard this past season, making headlines with his exceptional skills. With Jason Kidd aging, the Mavericks find their future star here in Wroten. 


19. New Jersey Nets (via HOU): Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi St

The Nets need more size and depth, and Moultrie has the potential to be a big-time steal on draft day. 


20. Boston Celtics: Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky

Ray Allen isn't getting any younger, so the Celtics would be wise to find his replacement. Lamb will be a great pickup, but with two first-round picks, don't be surprised if Boston moves up in the draft. 


21. Memphis Grizzlies: Dion Waiters, G, Syracuse

O.J. Mayo has been a sore sport for the Grizzlies, but they'll forget all about him after this year when he leaves and the Grizzlies bring in Waiters to replace him. 


22. Orlando Magic: Fab Melo, C, Syracuse

Melo wasn't dominant by any means this past season, but his potential is through the roof. The Magic have to take a center to have as insurance for Dwight Howard, and Melo is the best available here.  


23. Atlanta Hawks: Jeffery Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt

With Josh Smith's future uncertain in Atlanta, the smart thing for the Hawks to do is to draft his eventual replacement. Taylor is the best option here at No. 23, but it's no secret Atlanta is prone to horrible draft day decisions. 


24. Boston Celtics (via LAC):  C.J. Leslie, SF, N.C. State

Boston may package this pick to trade up, but there's no guarantee. Should the Celtics keep it, the wise decision would be to add youth at a key position. Leslie may decide to return to school, but if he declares, he'd be a solid fit in Boston. 

25. Indiana Pacers: Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt

Ezeli needs some work, but his potential to shine at the next level is very high. Indiana needs more size, and Ezeli will give them that, as well as a player willing to work hard to get better 


26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via LAL): Moe Harkless, SF, St. John’s

Harkless is a true sleeper in this draft. Few people know about him, but the kid can flat out play ball. The 6'8", 208-pound guard-forward hybrid type player will give the Cavs a great rooster boost. 


27. Golden State Warriors (via SA):  Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure

Should the Warriors select Nicholson, he'll serve as a strong backup for David Lee, providing the team will superb work in decent minutes as a rookie. 


28. Miami Heat: Draymond Green, F, Michigan State

Draymond Green can do it all, which is why the Heat will want him. They don't need a star player here, but rather a guy with the ability to do all the small things. Green will out hustle everyone on the court and make his presence known early and often as a rookie. 


29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Royce White, F, Iowa State

White will give the Thunder improved depth, which is all the team really needs right now. Insurance at the forward position for Kevin Durant is definitely a smart decision. 


30. Chicago Bulls: Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky

Speaking of player insurance, the Bulls need the best possible for Derrick Rose. Adding Teague into the mix would be a very wise call for Chicago.  



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