2012 NBA Mock Draft: Perfect Landing Spots for Defensive Stars

Wes ODonnell@wesodonnellFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 02:  Anthony Davis #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats goes up for the ball in the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks in the National Championship Game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on April 2, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Steppig/Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images

Two things we can agree upon in the 2012 NBA draft class is one—Anthony Davis is going to be the first overall pick—and two—there are a number of defensive stars to choose from.

In fact, Davis' teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is likely going to come off the board at No. 2 overall, and the Kentucky duo are both potential All-NBA defenders going into their rookie years.

That was the beauty of the Wildcats this year; they could score, but they locked down opposing teams' best players regularly.

Here's a look at the perfect landing spots for Davis, MKG and other defensive standouts in the 2012 NBA draft.

1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis, Kentucky

One of the worst teams in the history of the league, Charlotte needs help everywhere. Davis is still working on his offensive game, but he's an explosive leaper with ridiculously long arms and has a knack for closing down angles.

Driving to the basket on Davis makes you feel like you're playing on an eight foot rim, and Davis is still nearly seven feet tall.

Pairing him up alongside the developing Bismack Biyombo, another gifted shot-blocker, at least gives the Bobcats two defensive-minded bigs who could legitimately average double-digit blocks as a tandem during the year.

2. Washington Wizards:  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky

A dominant defender with great length and athleticism, MKG is a relentless force who will make any team better by doing all the little things.

He's still developing consistency with his shot, but he can slash to the basket and loves to get out and run.

The Wizards were atrocious yet again this season despite having numerous potential-laden players. At least with MKG, they know they're getting someone who can run the floor with John Wall and is going to bust his hump to shut down an opposition's best player defensively.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers, Bradley Beal, Florida 

Beal's no defensive star, but he'll work on that end of the floor as best he can. He's slightly undersized for the two-spot and not quick enough for the one, but he makes up for all that with his smooth shooting stroke and scoring prowess.

4. New Orleans Hornets: Thomas Robinson, Kansas

Another hustler with an NBA-ready body, Robinson's ceiling is limited, but that won't stop him from contributing. He carried the Jayhawks at times this season and was the reason they marched to the title game against Kentucky.

He's a tough, versatile defender, but he does lack elite height for his position.

Again, that won't stop him from making an impact, and the Hornets need help on both ends of the court.

5. Sacramento Kings: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina

Barnes will work on the defensive end and can be great when he wants to be, but he's going to Sacramento to give them a true scoring threat from the wing.

6. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey Nets): Andre Drummond, Connecticut

Drummond has so much potential in so many areas, but we cannot legitimately call him a defensive star just yet. He's an intimidating shot-blocking presence with his size, length and leaping ability, but he's far too inconsistent.

That said, he will make an immediate impact on the defensive end if he buys into his coach and system.

7. Golden State Warriors: Perry Jones III, Baylor

PJIII can do everything, including lock down offensive players, but he's the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of this class in terms of consistency. He can be absolutely terrific and dominate on both ends of the floor when he wants, but he can also completely disappear. 

However, the Warriors won't pass on his potential.

8. Toronto Raptors: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

Sullinger will work his tail off to get position, fight on the boards and defend bigger players, but he lacks the size, legs and conditioning to be a defensive star. He'll help the Raptors in a multitude of ways, though.

9. Detroit Pistons: Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State

Moultrie finally put his potential to use and wound up turning in a great season for the Bulldogs. He has an NBA-ready body, a ton of athleticism and good potential.

10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Kendall Marshall, North Carolina

He lacks the ideal quickness and speed to stick with the elite point guards, but he'll use his size and smarts to make plays on the defensive end.

11. Portland Trail Blazers: Austin Rivers, Duke

The Blazers will take a shot at Rivers, not because of his defensive ability-—he's a risk-taker with great athleticism—but because of everything he could become.

12. Milwaukee Bucks: Tyler Zeller, North Carolina

The Bucks sent Andrew Bogut packing this season and need someone to pick up the slack as a rebounder and low-post scorer-—enter Tyler Zeller.

13. Phoenix Suns: Damian Lillard, Weber State

The heir to Steve Nash's spot, Lillard is going to Phoenix because he can score, slash, dish and improve on everything else.

14. Houston Rockets: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut

Lamb looks bigger than he is thanks to his ridiculous wingspan and athleticism. The problem is that he doesn't always assert himself and dominate the way he should.

15. Philadelphia 76ers: John Henson, North Carolina

Henson loves to play defense, and he's the type of kid whose athleticism, length and motor will make him an even better defender in the NBA.

At 6'10" and 210 pounds, he still needs to bulk up a bit to bang around in the league, but his skill set and youth are exactly what Philadelphia is looking for on the block.

This team has a number of gifted perimeter players, so Henson is a perfect fit for them.

16. Houston Rockets (via New York Knicks): Terrence Jones, Kentucky

There is so much to love about Jones—his array of skills as well as his size and athleticism—but he doesn't always play up to the best of his abilities. That won't help him as a defender in the NBA.

17. Dallas Mavericks: Terrence Ross, Washington

A good, not great defender, Ross might be the ready-made replacement for Jason Terry should the veteran leave in free agency.

18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah Jazz): Meyers Leonard, Illinois

One of the best things about Leonard is that he understands where to be and how to play defense in the paint. He's not all there as an offense player-—fortunately the T-Wolves have Kevin Love for a scoring threat-—and he can work his way into the lineup and develop slowly.

This is as actually a great fit for a team that has a number of guards and a logjam at the 3-4 spot. Leonard will take time, but he's a genuine big with potential.

19. Orlando Magic: Quincy Miller, Baylor

With the looming departure of Dwight Howard hanging over this ball club once again, landing a potential star is a must.

Miller was the No. 2 guy for Baylor behind PJIII, but he has great potential, can defend around the rim and is still developing an all-around offensive game.

If he ever puts it all together, he could be an actual star in this league.

20. Denver Nuggets: Dion Waiters, Syracuse

A bit undersized for his position, Waiters will struggle with bigger, faster two-guards, but he can score the basketball.

21. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure

A do-everything player, Nicholson is very large on the Celtics' radar and fits exactly what they're looking for.

22. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Royce White, Iowa State

Another gifted all-around player who loves to crash the boards, White gives the Celtics a presence down low that they know they'll miss in KG if he leaves/retires.

23. Atlanta Hawks: Doron Lamb, Kentucky

Lamb will work, but he's heading to Atlanta for his solid shooting stroke and total offensive prowess.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Moe Harkless, St. John's

The potential to be a defensive power is there, but Harkless doesn't always bring it with him to the court. However, he can do everything and is a great pick at this spot.

25. Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Wroten, Washington

There's a lot to like about Wroten on the offensive end, but he lacks the quickness necessary to be a great defender.

26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague, Kentucky

The youngster is still putting it all together, and his defense will improve over time, but bigger guards will push him around.

27. Miami Heat: Fab Melo, Syracuse

Melo won't bring much offensive firepower to the Heat, but, fortunately for them, they have scoring in spades with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Bosh is the key to Melo's development, as the superstar forward can focus on doing everything offensively and, Melo can use his size, length and toughness to take care of opposing scoring threats.

If he can keep his head on straight, he'll do everything the Heat lack consistently under the basket: rebounding and shot-blocking from the center spot.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green, Michigan State

Another do-everything player, Green doesn't have a ton of quickness or leaping ability, so his defensive prowess is limited. He'll fit in just fine with the Thunder as a hustle player with rebounding skills.

29. Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt

Jenkins is a pure shooter, arguably the best in the country, and the Bulls will teach him how to play defense regardless of whether he wants to learn or not.

30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio Spurs): Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt

A terrific athlete with length, explosion, size and hustle, Taylor is one of the more gifted all-around defenders in the class.

The Warriors will take a chance on PJIII in the first, but they get a bit more certainty here with Taylor. His offensive game will come, but he'll contribute immediately as a defender.


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