2012 NBA Mock Draft: First-Round Project Players with Potential Star Status

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistApril 23, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 27: Tony Wroten #14 of the Washington Huskies controls the ball in the first half during the semifinals of the 2012 NCAA NIT Men's Basketball Championship against the Minnesota Golden Golphers at Madison Square Garden on March 27, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images)
Jason Szenes/Getty Images

Not every prospect up for grabs in the 2012 NBA Draft will be a star.

Some will become busts, others were born to be stars and then there are those who must work hard to reach the star status at the next level.

Sure, they may have dominated at the collegiate level, but they aren't quite ready to take the NBA by storm. It doesn't mean they don't have the talent to be a big-time hot shot in the league, though. 

Hard work and dedication will carry a person very far, and that's exactly what some NBA prospects will have to do to make it. 

That said, here's my 2012 NBA mock draft with info on each pick and a more in-depth look at those project players capable of becoming star players. 

1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky

Davis is the top prospect in the draft, and no matter which team ends up with the No. 1 pick, they're going to draft the gifted big man. 

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

Kidd-Gilchrist burst onto the scene this past season, dominating in high-pressure situations for the Wildcats. He'll do just the same when he gets to the NBA. 

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

The best rebounder in the draft class, Robinson was a double-double machine for Kansas. He'll make his presence known in the paint once he reaches the next level. 

4. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, C, UConn

A small reach here, but the Kings are in need of an additional big man to pair with DeMarcus Cousins. 

Drummond needs the most amount of work on his offensive skills, but this is an area that can be coached up well enough for Drummond to reach his full potential. 

At 6'11", 275 pounds, Drummond has the tools to thrive in the NBA, but he still needs work. He'll get drafted this high because of a weak center class and because Sacramento is in dire need of a true center. 

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

Barnes plays all over the court, dominating with ease. Adjusting to the NBA will be difficult, but he has the size, strength and stamina to excel for the Raptors. 

6. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, SG, Florida

Beal is a terrific shooter and scorer, which is just what the Cavs need alongside Kyrie Irving. 

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

Zeller benefits from a weaker center class, but that's not a knock on his talents. He's a superb rebounder, and he'll be a great fit for Portland, a team in need of a strong big man to help down low. 

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

There's no denying Sullinger's skills, and that's why he'll be a warm welcome to the Pistons. He's a powerful big man ready to use his big body to muscle his way past NBA defenders.  

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

Lillard isn't a true point guard, but he knows how to put a lot of points on the board, and that's why the Jazz will pick him. 

He needs work with his passing game and being a better facilitator, but when needed, Lillard is capable of driving to the hoop for a quick and easy two points. 

While his floor vision isn't the best out there, with a little hard work and determination, Lillard could end up being the next Derrick Rose

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

A true point guard, Marshall instantly makes those around him better. While he's no Chris Paul, he'll definitely help the Hornets win more games. 

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

First the Blazers get their big man, and now they help their backcourt by adding a fantastic scorer in Rivers. Living up to the hype won't be easy for Rivers, but he's fully capable of putting on a big show once he steps foot in the NBA. 

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

Jones had several ups and downs while at Baylor, but the Bucks will focus on his positives and work to make him into an elite player. 

13. Utah Jazz: Jeremy Lamb, SG, UConn

The Jazz continue to do the right thing and select a player to help their backcourt. Lamb is an outstanding guard with the ability to score at will, which Utah will love. 

14. Phoenix Suns: Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois

Leonard needs work and isn't the ideal player for the Suns here, as they'd much prefer a point guard. Since the top ones are off the board, Phoenix will play it smart and draft the best overall player, which is Leonard. 

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

An exceptional defender, Henson will receive a warm welcome by the Rockets, a team desperate for help in the frontcourt. 

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

The 76ers need better shooters, and Ross just so happens to be one of the best in the draft. He'll immediately be knocking shots from downtown, which will greatly please Philadelphia. 

17. Denver Nuggets: Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky

Jones decided to leave Kentucky, despite the fact the 2012 NBA draft class is loaded with great forwards. He would have been better off leaving last year, but hey, then he wouldn't have won a national championship. 

The Nuggets could use better depth, and that's exactly what Jones will provide. 

18. Dallas Mavericks: Tony Wroten, PG, Washington

The Mavericks have to start thinking about Jason Kidd's replacement, which is why drafting Wroten makes the most sense. 

He needs to improve his jump shot and not be so reckless while playing, but since he's young (only a freshman), Wroten will continue to grow and get better. 

Wroten is a definite sleeper in this draft, and with extra work, he'll become a bona fide star in the NBA. 

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

Adding more size for improved depth is just what the Nets need, so drafting Moultrie in hopes he'll be a mega steal is the Nets' best bet. 

20. Boston Celtics: Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky

The Celtics are aging all over, which is why they'll do the smart thing and draft a young scorer like Lamb to become their future. 

21. Memphis Grizzlies: Dion Waiters, G, Syracuse

The Grizzlies really want to forget about O.J. Mayo and all his troubles, and drafting Waiters is the perfect way to accomplish that. 

22. Orlando Magic: Fab Melo, C, Syracuse

Orlando needs to think about insurance for Dwight Howard even more so than before now that he has back problems. 

Drafting Melo to help for the future of the franchise would be a stellar move. It's an upgrade to the roster just about every time a team brings in a seven footer. 

23. Atlanta Hawks: Jeffery Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt

Josh Smith's future with the Hawks is up in the air, so the wise decision for Atlanta in this draft would be to pick his eventual replacement. Taylor is a great fit for that, but of course, the Hawks have been known to make draft blunders before. 

24. Boston Celtics (via LAC):  Royce White, F, Iowa State

The Celtics continue to get younger and add more size to the roster, which will be a huge addition for the future of the franchise, which is pretty much about to be the present. 

25. Indiana Pacers: Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt

Ezeli needs work, but the potential to become a big-time star in the NBA is certainly there. 

At 6'11", 255 pounds, Ezeli has the size and defensive ability to make it at the next level, but his offensive skills need the most help. 

Indiana will draft him for his size, but with the right coaching, Ezeli can hone his basketball skills, improve his post game and turn into an elite stud in the NBA. 

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

Harkless is young and has time to strengthen his jump shot, but the fact he's already great at penetrating to the basket makes him an enticing project player. 

In addition to driving to the hoop, Harkless is also a solid defender, but it's still an area that needs improvement since the level of talent he's about to face will be significantly amplified. 

Still, Harkless is very underrated and will turn into a star in time, which Cleveland will love. 

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

Nicholson will step into the league and be a solid bench player for the Warriors, making good plays as a role player in his rookie campaign. 

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

Green is a great all-around player who will do whatever he's asked of by Miami. He doesn't need to be a star for them, but rather an athlete who never quits and does all the little things right, something Green is fully capable of doing. 

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Evan Fournier, SG, France

Fournier is the one international player with the best shot at landing in the first round, but there's no guarantee it happens. He's only 19, so this pick will be for the future, but Fournier is a terrific scorer who'll provide the Thunder with even better depth. 

30. Chicago Bulls: Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky

Adding insurance for Derrick Rose is the smartest move the Bulls can make with their first-round pick. Teague needs more time to develop, and sitting behind Rose will help him become better.  

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