The 2012 NBA Draft is under two months away and as usual, it’s a time to give struggling teams some hope for the future.
Of course a few franchises prayers will be answered as they may land the impact player they desperately need. Others won’t be as lucky as they will ultimately be rolling the dice on potential, hoping they can land the next big star.
As with any draft, some players will make a big impact right away and some won’t. Here’s a look at some of those guys in particular in my latest mock draft.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis, Kentucky.
The Bobcats need an impactful player in the worst way and they can’t go wrong with taking the top player on the board.
Davis is a special type of player who can have a major impact on the game without ever touching the ball. His length and shot-blocking ability (4.7 BPG) will make the Bobcats much better defensively
He has to add some muscle along the way, but while many feel Davis doesn’t have the offensive game, I disagree. Davis has excellent footwork and fundamentals and the 63 percent he shot from the floor says that he can finish effectively .
2. Washington Wizards: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky.
The Wizards have had some shady characters come through the nation’s capital the past few seasons and could really use a high-character guy to serve as a leader.
Kidd-Gilchrist brings high character, leadership, toughness and work ethic to the table and has a motor that never stops. He has the athleticism to be a very good wing player in the NBA immediately and will produce at both ends of the floor as he’s an outstanding defender.
The Kentucky product's only weakness right now is his perimeter shooting. He shot 49 percent from the floor on the season, but only 25 percent from behind the arc. All other parts of his game are very solid.
3. New Orleans Hornets: Thomas Robinson, Kansas.
Robinson fills one of many needs for the Hornets as they could really use a productive big man.
Despite standing only 6’9”, Robinson has the strength to play on the block and the athleticism to compete with any NBA defender.
After two years at Kansas where he was viewed as just a dunker, Robinson showed that he’s a tenacious rebounder and has developed and all-around offensive game. The results were averages of 17.9 PPG and 11.8 RPG and 27 double-doubles.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, Florida.
The Cavs need to get more athletic and add some backcourt scoring and by selecting Beal they could fill those needs immediately.
Beal could turn into the best pure scorer in this draft and paired with Kyrie Irving, the Cavs could have one of the best young backcourts in the NBA for some time.
He averaged 14.8 PPG and is a shooter with range, knocking down 34 percent of his attempts. But he does a lot well besides shooting the ball, averaging 6.7rebounds per game (tops among guards in the draft).
5. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, Connecticut.
Drummond has a ton of upside and could turn into a perfect pick for the Kings to pair with DeMarcus Cousins, but despite having an NBA-body and a ton of skill, Drummond probably needs a little more seasoning.
His numbers as a freshman were good, not great, averaging 10.0 PPG, 7.6 RPG and swatting away 2.9 shots per night.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey Nets): Damian Lillard, Weber State.
Portland has a couple needs to fill and one of them is a productive guard. They may be reaching a bit on Lillard at No. 6, but he’s going to go sometime within the Top 10 picks.
He’s a guy that can score the ball, averaging 24.5 PPG on the season and can play either guard spot, although he is viewed primarily as a point guard.
7. Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina.
The Warriors are crossing their fingers that they get to keep this pick. As long as they finish in the top seven after the lottery, they can’t go wrong with Barnes.
He’s the productive small forward Golden State needs and has the talent to become a No. 1 scoring option in the NBA. Critics will point to the mere 33 percent he shot from the floor in the NCAA Tournament, but Barnes also played the last month-plus of the season with a badly sprained ankle.
Barnes averaged 17.7 PPG on the season for the Tar Heels and a potential starting lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Barnes, David Lee and Andrew Bynum could make the Warriors a surprise in the Western Conference.
8. Toronto Raptors: Perry Jones III, Baylor.
The Raptors also need production from the wings and Jones is a guy with top five talent. He hasn’t found a way to bring things out consistently, but if he does, Jones could become a future All-Star.
He runs the floor like a deer and can jump through the building, but the numbers have to be more consistent on a game per game basis. Averaging 13.5 PPG and 7.9 RPG aren’t bad numbers, but they don’t come close to matching his skill set.
9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson, North Carolina.
Henson is my sleeper impact in this draft.
Detroit needs to get more athletic up front and Henson will fit in nicely against Greg Monroe. He’s got great leaping skills and is a dynamic shot-blocker (2.9 BPG) and rebounder (10.1 RPG).
Henson has a great feel for the game and has tremendous court coverage. He’s the type of player that can erase teammates' mistakes on the defensive end of the floor.
10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Kendall Marshall, North Carolina.
Getting Marshall and Robinson in the same draft could turn out to be huge for the Hornets.
They need a point guard and a leader and Marshall is a pass-first point guard who makes everyone around him better. He’s a natural floor leader with great court vision (9.8 PPG) and excellent decision-making skills, posting a 3.48 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Marshall makes passing look effortless and may have the highest basketball IQ of any guard in the draft.
There are questions not only about his scoring ability and athleticism, but his effort on the defensive end of the floor. Still, he’s the best pure point guard in the draft and could make an immediate impact in the NBA.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Tyler Zeller, North Carolina.
The Blazers can add the big man here they need in Zeller. He’s a legitimate center prospect who while he won’t be a star, has the fundamentals and athletic ability to be very productive in the NBA.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State.
Sullinger's athleticism and ability to succeed against bigger and more athletic defenders has been questioned, but no big man has the post-game right now that the former Buckeye has.
Even if he doesn’t become a star, if Sullinger can give Milwaukee anything close to the 17.6 PPG and 9.6 RPG he did in college, then the Bucks will be happy with that.
13. Phoenix Suns: Austin Rivers, Duke.
The Suns need a bit of everything, but they need a young player with potential star power and that could be Rivers.
He has natural scoring ability, averaging 15.5 PPG at Duke this season, but he has to develop a consistent jumper and reel his game in some. The talent is certainly there.
14. Houston Rockets: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut.
Here’s a pick for the ages for Houston. The Rockets need backcourt depth and Kevin Martin will be entering the final year of his deal next season.
Lamb has the skill set and overall talent to go much higher in the draft and he could turn into a top scoring option (17.7 PPG) very quickly for the Rockets.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Terrence Ross, Washington.
Ross has great size for a 2-guard at 6’6” and has range on his jumper, knocking down 37 percent of his attempts from behind the arc. The Sixers need some additional perimeter shooting and Ross gives them an immediate upgrade in the backcourt.
16. Houston Rockets (via New York Knicks): Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State.
Another sleeper who can make an immediate impact, Moultrie is a gifted athlete with size, elite athletic ability and tremendous rebounding skills, pulling down 10.6 RPG. Needing a young athletic big man, Moultrie is well worth the risk for the Rockets.
He is strong enough to play the 4 or the 5 but also has the athleticism of a guard. Moultrie averaged 16.4 PPG and can score from both the inside (.549 field goal percentage) or outside (.444 three-point percentage).
17. Dallas Mavericks: Terrence Jones, Kentucky.
Jones makes Dallas younger and more athletic. He’s a talented scorer who can score at all three levels, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 33 percent from beyond the arc.
At 6’9” Jones has ideal size for a small forward and can more than hold his own rebounding in traffic, averaging 7.2 RPG on the season.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves: Dion Waiters, Syracuse.
With the top pure shooters off the board, Minnesota could still look at Kentucky’s Doron Lamb or Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins here, but it would be very hard to pass on the talent of Dion Waiters.
He’s not a tremendous shooter, but Waiters isn’t a bad one either, shooting 36 percent from downtown. His specialty is using his athleticism to get to the rim, and few guards in this draft does that better.
19. Orlando Magic: Meyers Leonard, Illinois.
The Magic can look at many areas here, but the size and potential of Leonard makes sense, especially if they decide to eventually deal Dwight Howard.
He’s not going to be an All-Star right away, but he’s talented and coming off a good season at Illinois where he averaged 13.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.9 BPG and shot .584 from the floor.
20. Denver Nuggets: Quincy Miller, Baylor.
Miller has a ton of ability and while he isn’t NBA ready right now, he makes sense for the Nuggets.
Denver doesn’t have any pressing needs at the moment, so they can afford to be patient with him while he develops.
21. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure.
I love this pick for Boston. Nicholson gives them a young big body for the future, and has the chance to become very productive down the road.
He’s a do-it-all type of player, who averaged 18.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG and 2.0 BPG on the season, while shooting 57 percent from the floor and 44 percent from three-point range.
If you are looking for a steal of the draft, Nicholson could be the guy.
22. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Royce White, Iowa State.
White stands 6’9” and has the tools to go much higher in the draft if it weren’t for a few off-the-court issues that include an anxiety disorder and a fear of flying.
He’s got the size and the length of a small forward and the agility of a guard. His abilities to get to the rim and rebound the ball draw immediate notice (averaging 13.4 PPG and 9.8 RPG), but he also is a distributor, ranking fifth in the Big 12 Conference with 5.1 APG.
Smart pick for Boston as White can be productive off the bench immediately and be an eventual replacement for Paul Pierce.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Doron Lamb, Kentucky.
Lamb can be a volume scorer when he’s on his game, averaging 13.9 PPG on the season and winning a national championship in the process.
He’s a shooter, knocking down 47 percent of his three-point attempts and can help a team like the Hawks in a big way.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Moe Harkless, St. Johns.
Harkless helps the Cavs get more athletic and is a very good scorer (15.3 PPG) and defender. If they get Beal and Harkless to go along with last season’s two first-round picks in Irving and Tristian Thompson, the pieces could fall into place in Cleveland sooner rather than later.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Wroten, Washington.
Memphis can look to the future and roll the dice on Wroten as they can afford to give him the necessary time to develop.
He could end up being the best point guard in this class with time, but first must learn to take care of the ball (3.8 turnovers per game) and develop a perimeter shot, shooting only 16 percent from behind the arc.
26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague, Kentucky.
The Pacers can look to the future with this pick and grab their point guard of the future in Teague.
He’s got a ton of talent and great quickness, but has some growing to do to become a legit NBA point guard. He definitely has the ability to do so, it may just take some time.
27. Miami Heat: Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt .
Ezeli is a big body that can block shots (2.0 BPG) and can score a bit (10.0 PPG). He’s raw but has some definite talent that can be developed. Solid pick here for the Heat.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt.
Taylor is an outstanding defender who adds depth to the Thunder rotation. He’s a gifted athlete who can get to the rim (16.4 PPG) and showed the ability to knock down the perimeter shot consistently (.423).
29. Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt.
The Bulls need a second scoring option to compliment Derrick Rose and Jenkins could be the guy, after averaging 19.9 PPG on the season.
He’s also possibly the best pure shooter in the draft, knocking down 44 percent of his attempts from behind the arc and teams can never have too much shooting.
30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio Spurs): Fab Melo, Syracuse.
The Warriors were desperate for a big man all season until they acquired Andrew Bogut before the trade deadline.
Now they can add a big body with potential and allow him to develop. Melo’s offensive game is raw, but he has a good feel on the defensive end, averaging 2.9 blocks per night.
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