2012 NBA Mock Draft: Underclassmen Who Won't Regret Declaring Early

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2012

Not every underclassman that declared for the 2012 NBA draft will thrive in the NBA, which will certainly make them ponder whether or not they should have left college in the first place.

However, there will be a few that dominate at the next level, allowing them to rejoice in the fact they forgot about college so they could prosper in the NBA. 

With smaller rosters, it's much harder to make it in the NBA as opposed to the NFL, MLB or NHL. It's the unfortunate truth, and some players don't consider it when making their decision. 

That being said, here's my updated 2012 NBA mock draft with info on each pick and a more in-depth look at some of the underclassmen who won't regret declaring early. 


2012 NBA Mock Draft

1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky

The top prospect in the draft, Davis made the smart decision by declaring early. 

Everyone knows he is going to be the No. 1 pick, so leaving after his freshman season was a no-brainer. 

Davis is going to excel at the next level, using his great size and superb skill to help the team win that drafts him. 


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

Pairing Kidd-Gilchrist with John Wall will significantly help the Wizards win more games. He could've used another year in school, but it's hard to blame him for going out on top and capitalizing off his hype.


3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, SG, Florida

Beal is a terrific scorer, which is just what the Cavs need to help Kyrie Irving. 


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

Robinson was a double-double machine in college, and his skills translate very well to the NBA. 

Had he returned to school, the Jayhawks would have been huge favorites to win it all, but Robinson made the right call. 

He's ready for the next level, and he'll wast no time dominating the paint. 


5. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, C, UConn

Drummond is a risky pick here, but the Kings need more size and strength in order for other teams around the league to begin to fear them. 


6. Portland Trail Blazers (via NJ): Damian Lillard, PG, Weber St

Lillard had another year of eligibility, but with such a weak point guard class, declaring early was a splendid decision. 

While Lillard does need extra work, especially with distributing the ball, he's a fantastic scoring point guard, which will be a great fit for the Blazers.  

7. Golden State Warriors: Perry Jones III, PF, Baylor

Jones had his ups and downs during his short collegiate career. He'll help add superb depth for the Warriors as they strive to get better. 


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

The Raptors really need help all over, especially at the forward position. 

Barnes almost declared a year ago, but retuning to school improved his game, and now he's fully ready for the NBA. 

He may not be thrilled to be headed to Toronto, but Barnes will greatly help the Raptors win more. 


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

Sullinger is a beast down low, and he'll be a warm welcome to the Pistons, a team in dire need of size and strength. 


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

Marshall won't turn into the next Chris Paul for New Orleans, but he'll still do a good enough job to help those around him be much better. 


11. Portland Trail Blazers: Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina

Another North Carolina player selected in the draft, Zeller will give the Blazers some much-needed size. He's exceptionally skilled at rebounding the ball, and he'll help create more second-chance shots for Portland. 


12. Milwaukee Bucks: Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky

The Bucks might look to take a center here, but Jones is the best overall player right now, and they won't pass up on his well-rounded skill set.  


13. Phoenix Suns: Austin Rivers, G, Duke

With Steve Nash likely headed elsewhere in free agency this summer, the Suns have to get a guard in the draft.

Rivers has a great deal of hype surrounding him, and some believe he's more of a 2-guard than a point, but there's no denying he has immense talent and potential. 


14. Houston Rockets: Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois

Leonard is raw and definitely needs time to develop more, but the Rockets will be willing to take the risk because they need more size and they have two first-round picks.  

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

The 76ers will be adding a fine shooter in Ross. He'll have no trouble coming off the bench and providing a great spark to the team. 


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

The Rockets continue to add size, as Henson joining the team will also do wonders for Houston's defense.  


17. Dallas Mavericks: Tony Wroten Jr., PG, Washington

Jason Kidd isn't getting any younger, so using this pick to get Wroten would be a phenomenal decision for Dallas. Wroten is a major sleeper in the class of 2012. 


18. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jeremy Lamb, SG, UConn

The Timberwolves' biggest need is at the 2-guard position, and Lamb is easily the best available. Some might even argue he'll end up as the best shooting guard from the 2012 class, and working with Ricky Rubio might just help him become that. 


19. Orlando Magic: Fab Melo, C, Syracuse

Melo needs some time to develop, but there's no denying that he had great potential. Orlando has to have insurance at center for Dwight Howard, and Melo is the best on the board here at No. 19. 


20. Denver Nuggets: Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi St

Denver plays very well as a team, which means the Nuggets need to have splendid depth, something Moultrie will definitely provide. 


21. Boston Celtics: Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky

The Celtics have to get younger in this draft, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if they packaged both first-round picks to jump up and get the best possible talent. Should they stay put and use both, drafting a terrific scorer like Lamb will be clutch. 


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

With their second pick of the first round, the Celtics have to add size and strength for the depth of the team, if they didn't already do so with their first Round 1 selection. 


23. Atlanta Hawks: Jeffery Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt

Josh Smith's future with the Hawks is up in the air, so drafting his eventual replacement would be a brilliant move for Atlanta. 


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

Speaking of sleepers, Harkless might just be the biggest one in the draft. The kid can flat-out play ball, and he'll be a great fit in Cleveland as the Cavs' future gets brighter. 


25. Memphis Grizzlies: Dion Waiters, G, Syracuse

The Grizzlies have several options here, but adding a great penetrator like Waiters to put more points on the board would be a solid addition. 


26. Indiana Pacers: Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt

Ezeli has the potential to be a star, but it will take time, as he needs to further hone his skills for the next level. The Pacers need additional size, and Ezeli makes the most sense here for Indiana. 


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

Green doesn't have "big star" written all over him, but that's perfectly fine for the Heat because they don't need a star. They need an all-around player like Green to play to the fullest when he gets on the court. 


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

The Thunder have a very talented roster as is, so drafting an international player to help the depth of the future would be a smart pick. 


29. Chicago Bulls: Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky

Prior to Derrick Rose's injury in the playoffs, I had been stating the Bulls need better insurance at the PG spot for their star player. After the ACL injury, it's even more clear that Chicago has to go with a talent point guard late in the first round of the draft. 

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

With their second pick of the first round, the Warriors add more size for the depth of the team. Nicholson will serve as a great backup for David Lee. 



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