By definition, a playmaker is a player whose role is to create scoring opportunities for his or her teammates.
The 2012 NBA draft, while deep on talent, doesn’t necessarily have a ton of pure playmakers, which means teams in search of these type of players may have to reach a bit to make sure they get their man.
With that being said, I will take a look at the best offensive playmakers available in the 2012 draft and take a look at their potential landing spots in my latest mock draft.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Davis is a no-brainer at No. 1 for the Bobcats, and will have tremendous impact on the defensive end of the floor as a shot-blocker and rebounder.
The Bobcats need an impact player in the worst way, and Davis is a guy who will have a great impact without ever needing to touch the ball.
2. Washington Wizards: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
Kidd-Gilchrist is a great athlete who also has outstanding leadership skills, which is something Washington desperately needs.
He will have an impact defensively, as the Kentucky product will be a shutdown defender who can guard multiple positions.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, Florida
Who will be the best playmaker in the draft?
The Cavs need a backcourt scorer to pair with Kyrie Irving, and Beal could become the best pure scorer in the draft after averaging 14.8 points per game as a freshman at Florida.
Beal also helps Cleveland get more athletic and, on paper, a potential Irving-Beal backcourt is very promising for the future.
4. New Orleans Hornets: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
The Hornets can’t go wrong with Robinson. He’s got a non-stop motor and will be a solid NBA scorer and rebounder, after averaging 17.8 points and 11.9 rebounds per game in leading Kansas to the title game.
New Orleans finished the season ranked 29th in scoring and 24th in rebounding, so a guy who had 27 double-doubles on the season will offer a big lift.
5. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, Connecticut
The Kings were the worst defensive team in the NBA and need a big body to pair with DeMarcus Cousins.
Drummond may not be NBA-ready, but he’s got a good feel for the game and pulled down 7.7 boards while blocking 2.9 shots per game. He’s got tremendous upside, and down the road the Kings could have a potentially dominant frontcourt.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey Nets): Damian Lillard, Weber State
The first playmaker comes off the board in Lillard, who’s the top point guard on the board.
He’s not only an explosive scorer, who averaged 24.5 PPG on the season, but he’s comfortable being a facilitator as well, even though his assists numbers (4.0 APG) at Weber State really don’t warrant that statement.
However, he’s a guy with very good size, speed and strength to be an NBA point guard. Lillard’s a
pretty good set-up man, who was asked to score a lot at Weber State. Still, he averaged four assists per game with nearly a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Portland needs a point guard for the future, and taking a shot on a guy like Lillard could pay off in a big way down the road.
7. Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Golden State still has to wait for the lottery to see if they keep this pick or not, as if it falls outside of the top seven then becomes property of the Utah Jazz.
If they do keep it, Barnes is a no-brainer, as he gives them the productive small forward the Warriors need badly.
8. Toronto Raptors: Perry Jones III, Baylor
The Raptors also need production from the wing, and rolling the dice on Jones here makes a lot of sense.
He’s got all the skills in the world, and if Jones can find a way to bring it out on a consistent basis, Toronto could have themselves a future All-Star.
9. Detroit Pistons: Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
Detroit will be looking for an athletic big man to pair next to Greg Monroe, and Moultrie is not only extremely athletic, but can become very productive as well.
He can play the 4 or the 5 and has the ability to score from the inside or outside. After a season that saw him average 16.4 points and 10.6 rebounds, his stock is very high. Moultrie is risky, but I’m very high on him—especially for the Pistons who need an athletic big body.
10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
When you are talking about playmakers, it’s hard not to think about Marshall first, who’s a good fit here for the Hornets, as they can fill their need for a point guard of the future.
He’s the best pure floor general in the draft, and his basketball IQ is outstanding.
While there are some concerns about his athleticism and how his scoring and defensive abilities will translate to the NBA, there’s no doubting Marshall’s playmaking abilities.
The North Carolina product excels in both transition and the half-court game. Marshall makes passing look effortless, and had a solid 2011-12 season in which he averaged 9.8 assists per game.
There’s also no better decision maker with the ball, evident by Marshall’s 3.48 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s a guy who makes everyone else on the floor better, and you don’t find many players with that trait.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
Portland can also fill a big need for a man in the middle by drafting Zeller.
He will never be an All-Star, but he will be productive. Zeller improved all four seasons at North Carolina, and finished his career by averaging 16.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game while shooting .555 from the floor.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Sullinger is coming off two productive seasons at Ohio State, where he averaged 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds.
The Bucks need a guy who will be productive on the block for years. While Sullinger may put up the numbers he did in college, he has a very advanced post-game and could forge out a solid NBA career.
13. Phoenix Suns: Austin Rivers, Duke
Rivers came to Duke with a reputation as a playmaking-type of guard, but he never actually showed much of that during his freshman season.
He has a ton of ability but a lot to work on, including playing without the ball better and learning to use his teammates more effectively. Instead of a playmaker, Rivers was more of a player strictly dependent on isolation.
The good news is that Rivers is a natural scorer (15.5 PPG) and has the ability to become a star. The bad news is that it may take some time.
He’s definitely worth the gamble this late for the Suns, though.
14. Houston Rockets: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
Lamb is a great fit for the Rockets, as they need backcourt depth. With Kevin Martin’s contract expiring after the 2013 season, Lamb could wind up being a big part of the Rockets' future.
He’s not so much of a playmaker as he is a scorer. Lamb averaged 17.7 points per game on the season while at UConn, and could turn into a No. 1 scoring option down the road.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: John Henson, North Carolina
Henson could turn into a steal this late, and is a solid fit in Philadelphia as he will help tighten up the Sixers' interior defense.
He’s very athletic and runs the floor great, but Henson’s immediate impact will be as a rebounder (10.1 RPG) and as a shot-blocker (2.9 BPG).
16. Houston Rockets (via New York Knicks): Meyers Leonard, Illinois
Leonard has the skills to be productive in the NBA, but it won’t be right away.
He’s a seven-footer with a decent back-to-the-basket game, and also has the athleticism to put the ball on the deck and attack the rim. In addition to his promise as a scorer, Leonard has the chance to become a solid rebounder (8.2 RPG) and shot-blocker (1.9 BPG).
17. Dallas Mavericks: Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Jones helps the Mavericks get younger and more athletic, and has the talent to become a big part of Dallas' future.
He’s a 6'9" small forward who can score at all three levels, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 33 percent from behind the arc.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah Jazz): Terrence Ross, Washington
Ross averaged 16.6 PPG and shot 37 percent from behind the arc, and could be the perfect fit on the improving Timberwolves.
They need a legit 2-guard who can extend defenses, and Ross is a solid athlete who can produce immediately.
19. Orlando Magic: Dion Waiters, Syracuse
While not a traditional point guard, Waiters has an outstanding NBA future as a combo guard.
Waiters has excellent playmaking skills and the ability to get into the paint at will, which not only allows him to finish effectively at the rim, but also allows him to become a good creator for his teammates.
He only averaged 12.1 points and 2.5 assists on the season, but did so playing only 24 minutes per night. Even more impressive was the way Waiters took care of the ball, posting an assist-to-turnover ratio near 2.0.
He’s a bit undersized, needs to work on his jumper and has the reputation of being a bit selfish at times, but he's a big-time talent.
Orlando needs to fill plenty of holes for the future, and taking a talent like Waiters who can make a big impact down the road makes a lot of sense.
20. Denver Nuggets: Quincy Miller, Baylor
Miller is a tremendous young athlete with a bright NBA future, but it won’t be right off the bat.
Miller was one of the top high school prospects in 2011 before tearing his ACL during his senior season, but has a lot of developing to do. Fortunately, Denver doesn’t have any immediate holes to fill, so going with the upside of Miller makes sense, as he could pay big dividends down the road.
21. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
The Celtics need a young, big body that can be productive down the road, and Nicholson could turn out to be the steal of the draft.
He did everything well in college, averaging 18.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG and 2.0 BPG, but did so shooting 57 percent from the floor and 43 percent from behind the arc during his senior season; one in which he led the Bonnies back to the NCAA tournament.
22. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Royce White, Iowa State
Not too many 6'9" small forwards come out of college with the reputation as a playmaker, but White isn’t an ordinary small forward.
He’s got the size and strength to score on the block, but the athleticism and court vision of a guard.
Even though he averaged 13.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, White also averaged 5.1 assists on the season, which not only led the Iowa State team, but also was fifth in the entire Big 12 conference.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Doron Lamb, Kentucky
The Hawks often had to start Kirk Hinrich at the 2, so an upgrade is badly needed.
Lamb is a guy who shot 47 percent from behind the arc and averaged 13.9 points per game for Kentucky. When he’s doing well, Lamb can be a lethal scorer. He’s a near-perfect fit for the Hawks.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Moe Harkless, St. Johns
The Cavs get another scorer (15.3 PPG) here and an exceptional athlete with Harkless.
He’s got a ton of upside and could also become a solid rebounder and defender. Adding Beal and Harkless would make this a very productive draft for the Cavs.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Wroten, Washington
Don’t be surprised if five years down the road Wroten is the best point guard in this class.
He’s lightning quick and has an exceptional change of direction. Wroten could be a good scorer right now, after averaging 16.0 points per game, but he needs some time to develop before he’s NBA-ready.
On talent alone, Wroten has the skills to become the top guard in this draft class, but he has a long ways to go before he reaches his potential.
He has no perimeter shot right now, shooting only 16 percent from behind the arc. He tends to force things by trying to make the spectacular play instead of simply giving what the defense gives him.
Turnovers are a problem, averaging 3.8 miscues per game as a freshman, compared to only 3.7 assists.
Wroten’s all-around talent and high ceiling can’t be ignored, though, as he’s well worth the risk this late in the first round.
26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague, Kentucky
Indiana can nab its point guard for the future with Teague, who needs to develop but has a ton of upside.
Teague's physical attributes stand out immediately, as he has good size and excellent athleticism for the point guard position. He has blazing speed and can play the up-tempo style effectively if needed.
Although he had an up-and-down season in the half-court game, he finished strongly by having an outstanding NCAA tournament run to solidify his standing as a first-round pick.
Despite problems with inconsistencies and turnovers throughout the season, Teague averaged 13.4 points, 4.9 assists and 3.0 rebounds throughout March, cutting his turnovers down to 2.5 per game in the process.
27. Miami Heat: Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
Ezeli hasn’t been playing the game all that long, but averaged 10.0 PPG, 2.0 BPG and shot 60 percent from the floor.
He's definitely a guy with talent, and the Heat can afford to bring him along slowly as a productive big man, which is an eventual must in South Beach.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt
The Thunder need to add good young depth pieces, and Taylor will be a very nice fit coming off the bench in Oklahoma City.
He’s very athletic and can become a great on-ball defender, but he also has some scoring ability, averaging 16.1 points per game on the season.
29. Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
Jenkins is the best pure shooter in the college game and has a very quick release to go along unlimited range, shooting 44 percent from behind the arc on the season.
Chicago eventually needs another scoring option, and down the road Jenkins could eventually replace Richard Hamilton at the shooting guard spot.
30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio Spurs): Fab Melo, Syracuse
Golden State can add the additional size they need, and while Melo is a project, he’s got a good feel for the game and is a very good shot-blocker, swatting away 2.9 shots per game on the season.
He’s raw offensively, but the talent is there, as Melo has a pretty soft touch around the rim, shooting .566 on the season.