NBA Mock Draft 2012: Grading All 30 Picks Based on Best Available Talent
When it comes to the NBA draft, most teams usually draft to fill a need.
But some teams elect to take the best available player on the board, focusing on overall talent instead of immediate needs.
But how would the draft look if every team decided to go with the best player on the board?
In my latest mock draft, I decided to take a look at that very idea, giving each team the highest rated player, based on ESPN's Chad Ford's updated Top 100.
If you are interested in comparing how this strategy effects the draft, feel free to take a look at my previous mock draft, as well.
With that being said, here's a look at how each pick would grade out if each team selects the best available talent on the board in June's draft.
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1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Davis is the top player on the board and will make an immediate impact in Charlotte, with his outstanding shot-blocking (4.7 BPG) and rebounding (10.1 RPG) skills.
He's a no-brainer No. 1 overall pick who can impact the game without ever touching the ball.
2. Washington Wizards: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
MKG is a great fit in Washington running alongside John Wall. He's a high character guy and a natural leader that the Wizards desperately need.
Kidd-Gilchrist is an outstanding athlete who can rebound and get to the rim but needs to work on his perimeter shot; he knocked down only 25 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, Florida
Beal to the Cavs is a great fit as Cleveland needs to get more athletic and needs some backcourt scoring alongside Kyrie Irving.
Averaging 14.8 points per game last season, Beal has the shooting range and the offensive potential to become the best pure scorer in this draft. A Beal-Irving backcourt could become deadly in the future.
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4. New Orleans Hornets: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
I love Robinson's game, and I feel he's NBA-ready right now.
The Hornets are rebuilding, and adding a potential double-double machine on the block is a step in the right direction. Robinson may not average the 17.9 points and 11.9 rebounds he did at Kansas, but he will be productive, nonetheless.
5. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, Connecticut
Drummond may not be NBA-ready just yet, and probably could use another year of college, but there's no doubting his upside.
Sacramento needs a big man to pair with DeMarcus Cousins and a guy to help fix their interior defense. The Kings allowed an NBA-worst 104.4 points per game and Drummond's feel for the game and shot-blocking abilities (2.9 BPG) could come in handy.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey Nets): Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
What team can't use the scoring ability that Barnes brings to the table? He averaged 17.7 points per game and displayed the ability to become a No. 1 scoring option.
Yet while Barnes would be appreciated in Portland, the Blazers have other more pressing needs at the moment, including a productive big man and a point guard. The only way Barnes is a good pick for Portland is if it allows Nicolas Batum to walk as a restricted free agent.
Picks No. 7-9
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7. Golden State Warriors: Perry Jones III, Baylor
The Warriors need production from the wing and Jones is capable of being the guy who can provide it.
He has the talent of a top-three pick, and if he can put together consistent production—which was a problem in college where he averaged only 13.5 points and 7.9 rebounds and often disappeared at times—then this is a great pick for Golden State.
8. Toronto Raptors: Dion Waiters, Syracuse
Waiters makes a huge rise from my previous mocks as he cracks the Top 10.
He isn't an ideal point guard and is more of a combo guard, but he will be productive no matter what role. Waiters is a scorer with the ability to get into the paint at will.
The Raptors have other needs, which include a productive small forward, so Waiters isn't the ideal pick here. But with Barnes and Jones already off the board, they could do much worse.
9. Detroit Pistons: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
The Pistons need to get more athletic, and while an athletic big man would be ideal, a guy like Lamb wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for Detroit.
Lamb has the ability to be a top scoring option (17.7 PPG) in the NBA down the road, and the Pistons had trouble scoring in 2012, finishing 27th in the league at 90.9 points per game.
A Brandon Knight-Lamb backcourt would be nice for the future.
Picks No. 10-12
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10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
Zeller is a legit center prospect who won't do anything flashy but will be productive.
Getting their frontcourt of the future with Robinson and Zeller, the Hornets could be on the way to rebuilding quickly.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Here's where the picks stop making sense.
Portland needs a productive big man for sure, but with LaMarcus Aldridge set in stone at the 4, the Blazers need a true center and Sullinger is not that.
Sullinger averaged 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds during his career at Ohio State, so he may be able to produce off the bench, but he's not really a guy Portland should be looking at here.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Damian Lillard, Weber State
Same thing here for the Bucks, as they won't be looking at a point guard here with Brandon Jennings coming off a tremendous season.
I like Lillard a lot, and he's a the top point guard on the board, but the pick wouldn't make sense for Milwaukee, despite the fact that he averaged 24.5 points per game last season.
Lillard could provide scoring punch off the bench for the Bucks, but overall I don't like the fit here.
Picks No. 13-15
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13. Phoenix Suns: Terrence Ross, Washington
Ross has been flying up draft boards, and I love this pick for the Suns, as he will provide an instant upgrade at the 2-guard spot.
He's a scorer (16.6 PPG) and a very good rebounding guard (6.5 RPG). Anything he needs to do on the floor, Ross does very well, and if Steve Nash returns to Phoenix, the Suns could have a very good backcourt.
14. Houston Rockets: Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Looking at Houston's roster, they have plenty of wing players under contract next season, so adding another isn't as pressing of a need for the Rockets as is getting a big and some backcourt depth.
But Jones isn't necessarily a bad selection here.
He's a great athlete who can score from anywhere on the floor, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 33 percent from behind the arc last season. He's also a very good rebounder in traffic.
Houston could do much worse.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: John Henson, North Carolina
I love this pick for the Sixers as Henson makes Philadelphia's interior defense much improved.
They probably would like a shooter here, but Henson's rebounding (10.1 RPG) and shot-blocking abilities (2.9 BPG) are hard to pass on.
Henson has tremendous court coverage and has the ability to make up for teammates' mistakes on the defensive end. He's raw offensively, but that part of his game will come along.
Picks No. 16-18
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16. Houston Rockets (via New York Knicks): Austin Rivers, Duke
As it works out, the Rockets get the backcourt depth they need in Rivers.
He's a guy that will probably go much higher in the draft, and with Kevin Martin's contract expiring at the end of the 2013 season, Rivers could turn into a steal this late in the draft.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
Moultrie is a guy I'm very high on and is a great pick for Dallas, which needs to get younger and more athletic.
He can play the 4 or the 5 but has the athleticism of a guard. Moultrie can score from the inside (55 percent) or from the outside (44 percent) and is a relentless rebounder, averaging 10.6 boards per game last season.
He has the talent to go much higher in the draft and could be a good fit in Dallas down the road.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah Jazz): Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Marshall is the best pure point guard in the draft, but that's one thing the Timberwolves do not need after Ricky Rubio took the league by storm.
Even though he's making his way back from a torn ACL, Rubio's game is based on passing, so I don't think the injury will have much effect on his game.
Marshall is also a pass-first guard and while several teams would love to draft him, the Wolves aren't likely one of them.
Picks No. 19-21
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19. Orlando Magic: Meyers Leonard, Illinois
With Dwight Howard almost certain to be traded, acquiring a big man is probably a good move.
Leonard will take some time to develop, but he has the chance to become a productive big man. He's coming off a season where he averaged 13.6 points, grabbed 8.2 boards, blocked 1.9 shots and shot 58 percent from the floor.
20. Denver Nuggets: Quincy Miller, Baylor
Miller may not be NBA-ready just yet, but someone is going to take a shot on his talent and upside.
The Nuggets are almost the perfect team for Miller as they don't have any pressing needs at the moment and can afford to be patient with him.
His scoring and athleticism should fit in nicely down the road in George Karl's up-tempo attack.
21. Boston Celtics: Moe Harkless, St. John's
The Celtics could use either a shooter to replace Ray Allen or a big, but taking the best available player on the board wouldn't be the worst strategy in the world either.
Harkless is a tremendous athlete with a ton of upside and can be groomed as the replacement for Paul Pierce.
Picks No. 22-24
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22. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Tony Wroten, Washington
Wroten has the skills to become the best point guard in the draft, but he has some developing to do.
Unless Danny Ainge plans on trading Rajon Rondo in the near future, this pick doesn't really work for the Celtics, as they have more pressing needs to fill.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Fab Melo, Syracuse
Melo is another guy who needs to develop some.
He's very raw offensively but can make an impact on the defensive end. Melo is a very good shot-blocker, swatting away 2.9 shots on the season.
Atlanta has some more immediate needs, but this isn't a horrible pick for the future.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Marquis Teague, Kentucky
Here's one that makes no sense, especially after Kyrie Irving's spectacular rookie season.
The Cavs need either size here or wing production. Drafting a point guard makes little sense.
Picks No. 25-27
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25. Memphis Grizzlies: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
The Grizzlies don't have many real pressing needs other than a shooter, but adding frontcourt depth will help.
Nicholson could turn into a steal of the draft and is a guy that could come off the Memphis bench and can contribute right away.
Nicholson does everything well and is coming off a season where he averaged 18.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game, but did so shooting 57 percent from the floor and 43 percent from behind the arc.
26. Indiana Pacers: Royce White, Iowa State
The Pacers could use some depth at almost every position and need a playmaker off the bench.
That guy could turn out to be White, who not only averaged 13.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, but also led the Iowa State team with 5.1 assists per game.
27. Miami Heat: Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt
The Heat are another team without many pressing needs, and while a productive big man could be ideal, a guy like Taylor wouldn't be a bad selection either.
He's a great on-ball defender and a great athlete.
In addition to averaging 16.1 points per game, Taylor proved he can step out and hit the perimeter shot, knocking down 42 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.
Picks No. 28-30
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28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green, Michigan State
The Thunder need depth, and Green is a guy who can come off the bench and play the 3 or the 4.
He's not the biggest or quickest player in the world, and while he's not great at any one thing, Green is good at almost everything.
He's the type of player coaches love.
29. Chicago Bulls: Doron Lamb, Kentucky
The Bulls need some secondary scoring and Lamb could turn out to be a great fit in Chicago.
He has the ability to be an explosive scorer, averaging 13.9 points per game, and is deadly from the outside, shooting 47 percent from behind the arc last season.
This late in the draft, Lamb is a steal.
30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio Spurs): Evan Fournier, France
This late, going with the best player on the board makes sense, but I would still like to see Golden State go with size here.
Fournier has good size and is a productive scoring two-guard, who thrives at getting to the basket.
He would be nice coming off the Golden State bench.