2012 NBA Mock Draft: How the First Round Will Play out in June
Mock drafts are a tricky business. There is so much fluidity during the offseason, especially before the draft lottery process commences.
I personally was planning on holding off on my first mock draft until after the May 30th, but the excitement of this year's draft is just too great, and I am jumping the gun a little bit.
This mock is based on draft position as of May 29 and obviously should change once the NBA Draft Lottery goes down on Wednesday.
Here is the first edition of my 2012 NBA mock draft.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis, PF-C, Kentucky
Davis is perhaps the greatest talent we have seen entering the draft since Derrick Rose was taken a few years ago by Chicago.
The real strength of Davis' game is defense, but his offensive game shows potential as well.
Davis will bring to Charlotte what they have so far missed in their existence: an identity.
If the Bobcats are lucky, the ping pong balls will bounce their way.
If the Bobcats are smart, they will select Davis and build their team around him.
2. Washington Wizards: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
There are a lot of candidates here, and let's face it, Washington needs help just about everywhere.
That being said, MKG has the right mindset to be a star at the next level.
Washington needs maturity and leadership, and MKG was the unquestioned leader on the court for the champion Wildcats last year.
The Wizards showed some sizzle last year. MKG is the steak to that sizzle and the second-safest pick in the draft.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
The Cavs could go in a number of directions here, but it really comes down to two players.
Either they can focus on their frontcourt and Thomas Robinson, or they could look for a guard to pair with Kyrie Irving and select Bradley Beal.
I say they go big.
Robinson is an extremely powerful, athletic big that will enable Irving to become an assist machine.
4. New Orleans Hornets: Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
Now there certainly is a lot of bust potential with Drummond, and Beal is certainly a safer pick here.
And this certainly could change if they decide to go in a different direction with shooting guard Eric Gordon.
But Drummond is an athletic freak that, if he pans out, could become a dominant force down low on both sides of the ball.
The Hornets can't afford to pass that chance up.
5. Sacramento Kings: Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Even though they already have an excellent scoring guard in Tyreke Evans, Sacramento would be thrilled if Beal slips to them at number five.
This draft is very light on shooting guards, and Beal is without a doubt the best of the bunch.
He can score in a number of different ways, has range for days and likes mixing it up on defense.
There are questions about his height, but not about his ability.
At the very least, Sacramento will have a great bargaining chip if they decide to select Beal, giving them the option of dealing Evans or instead electing to deal Beal, move down and grab Harrison Barnes.
6. Portland Trail Blazers: Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
Personally, I think Barnes should not be drafted this high. I think this drat stock took a big hit when he lacked urgency in the NCAA tournament.
But the Blazers are not the best run franchise right now, and they will probably go with the biggest name.
Also, this would give them some options should they fail to re-sign Nic Batum.
The ideal thing for them would be to deal this pick to move up and grab Bradley Beal, and they might just do that.
Barnes can score, can shoot and is a smart player.
Portland doesn't really do any of that right now.
7. Golden State Warriors: Perry Jones, F, Baylor
Golden State is an even worse-run franchise than Portland, so who knows what they will be thinking here.
The best talent available is Jones, but he also has the most potential to bust.
He is a soft, underachieving big man that plays like a shooting guard.
How can the Warriors pass that up?
8. Toronto Raptors: Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
Let's be clear, the Raptors are a mess.
They seem to strike out whenever they land a free agent, they haven't had real success in recent drafts, and every time they develop a star, that player can't wait to bolt.
Sullinger actually makes a lot of sense here.
He is perhaps the smartest player in this draft, has a highly developed post game and is a highly skilled passer for a big man.
Sure, he plays below the rim and might get overwhelmed on the defensive side of the ball by longer, more athletic bigs, but Sullinger is a safe pick, and Toronto needs one of those for a change.
9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson, PF, North Carolina
I don't love this pick, and it is certainly the least confident I am of all the lottery picks, but it does make some sense.
Detroit needs high-character guys, and they also need more size up front.
Most importantly, they need an athletic big that can block shots to pair with Greg Monroe.
Henson needs to add muscle to his frame, and I worry that he might get pushed around at the next level.
But of all the bigs on the board right here, he makes the most sense for Detroit.
10. New Orleans Hornets: Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State
New Orleans used their own pick to shore up their frontcourt.
Now they will use Minnesota's pick for their floor general.
There certainly are questions about Lillard. He played weaker competition and lacks ideal size, and few know whether or not his skills will translate to success at the next level.
But he is the highest-rated point guard in this draft, and the Hornets need a leader and distributor.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
With their earlier pick, the Blazers added athleticism and scoring ability.
I think they will double-down on this here.
Lamb is a good scorer that will fill a huge hole for Portland and increase their overall ability to score.
They certainly should consider Kendall Marshall here, but given how weak of a shooting guard crop this is and the fact that there will be a few point guards available to them via free agency, this is the smartest pick.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
The Bucks are in a bit of a state of transition right now.
They dealt their talented yet often injured center Andrew Bogut, and now feature a more uptempo unit built around their guards.
They need size in a major way.
Zeller is a safe pick. He isn't the most talented guy available, but he projects as a solid pro for the next dozen or so years.
13. Phoenix Suns: Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
I think this will mark the end of the Steve Nash era in Phoenix.
And while I don't envy Marshall being in those big shoes, he certainly has the talent to take the reins in Phoenix.
Of course, the Suns could elect to shore up other positions and Terrence Jones will be mighty tempting here, but Marshall fills more of a need considering the likelihood that Nash moves on.
14. Houston Rockets: Terrence Jones, SF, Kentucky
Anybody that has read my draft analysis knows that I am not big on Jones.
He lacks maturity and often motivation, and therefore he doesn't always show up.
In fact, his intensity fluctuates from game to game, and I hate that.
But he is the most talented guy left on the board, and Houston doesn't really seem to be building a team with any kind of plan, but rather just assembling talent.
That will continue here.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Austin Rivers, G, Duke
I know, this is a team built with too many guards as it is.
But Rivers has the most talent and upside of the remaining players on the board.
He also gives Philly the bargaining power to deal one of their existing guards for frontcourt help, which is what they really need.
16. Houston Rockets: Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse
Waiters is a scoring beast. The kid can flat out get his points.
Sure, he lacks ideal size for the position, but he makes up for it with a relentless intensity.
Houston, again, is assembling talent without a clear direction.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Terrence Ross, SG, Washington
Dallas needs to get younger—plain and simple.
They certainly are going to be big players in the Deron Williams sweepstakes, and they still have the ageless wonder in Dirk Nowitzki.
But they need to add athleticism and talent on the wings.
Ross is a scorer that can jump out of the building and shoot with range.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves: Quincy Miller, F, Baylor
Minnesota is beginning to assemble some talent, and they even flirted with the playoffs this year before Ricky Rubio got hurt.
They need to add more length and athleticism in order to embrace Rubio's game.
Miller is an athletic, smart wing that can get out on the break and finish.
He was a victim of a very erratic Baylor program last year, but showed some real promise at times.
19. Orlando Magic: Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State
Orlando has some issues to resolve.
Most importantly, they need to figure out whether or not they are going to deal Dwight Howard.
Either way, they need more help up front.
Glen Davis provided some low-post scoring, but he plays below the rim.
Moultrie is an athletic freak that could develop into a very talented big man that would pair well with either Howard or Andrew Bynum.
20. Denver Nuggets: Moe Harkless, F, St. John's
Harkless turned in a very impressive freshman season last year at St. John's.
He showed an ability to score, play defense and grab rebounds.
Denver still is figuring out what they are, but you have to love how hard they play.
The one knock on Harkless is inconsistent intensity. Something tells me that won't be a problem in George Karl's system.
21. Boston Celtics: Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
Even if the Celtics decide to keep the big three together for another year, they will need to add size up front.
Leonard is a true big man that shows surprising touch near the hoop and plays with spirit.
He still will need to bulk up, but he could quickly become a fan favorite in Boston.
22. Boston Celtics: Royce White, SF, Iowa State
Okay, so this is a gamble.
On pure talent alone, White is a stud. He can score and rebound, and he has great size for his position.
But on the other hand, he has had some off-the-court issues and there are concerns about some of his quirks.
I also like Draymond Green as an option here, but make no mistake about it, the Celtics need to put together some young talent on the wings.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
Atlanta has been an enigma for the last few years.
This year, I think they will finally start to break up their squad, starting with Josh Smith.
Melo would add size and length to the Hawks and allow them to shift Al Horford to power forward.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Evan Fournier, SG, France
There is not a ton known about this talented swingman from France.
What is known is that he is a smart player that can get to the hoop at will.
Much like his fellow countryman Tony Parker, Fournier lacks three-point range.
That being said, there is a lot of buzz around this kid.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Draymond Green, SF, Michigan State
Draymond Green comes from a strong tradition of leaders coming out of Michigan State.
He is a do-it-all type of forward that will help on a somewhat immature Memphis squad.
Will he be a success at the next level? If he finds a niche, sure. But this late in the first round, you are looking for best available player, and Green is that.
26. Indiana Pacers: Jeff Taylor, SG/SF, Vanderbilt
If it were anyone but Larry Bird running this team, I would have Tony Wroten Jr. in this spot.
But Bird will be looking to add toughness to his team, and Taylor brings that.
Taylor can defend both the shooting guard and small forward positions.
He also has some athleticism and range on his shot.
27. Miami Heat: Andrew Nicholson, F, St. Bonaventure
The Heat need size up front.
And while the pickings at this point will be slim, Nicholson could be a nice fit.
He is an athletic big man that can block shots and finish with authority.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tony Wroten Jr., PG, Washington
You may be asking why Oklahoma City would want a point guard when they have Russell Westbrook.
It is a valid point.
That being said, at this point in the draft, teams have to take the best available talent.
And should Wroten Jr. slip this far, OKC might as well bag him.
In all honesty, the Thunder are playing with house money at this point. And who couldn't use a strong, athletic combo guard that has excellent court vision?
29. Chicago Bulls: Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky
Okay Bulls fans, relax. We aren't saying that Derrick Rose is done, nor that Chicago needs to get a replacement.
But it wouldn't hurt to have another good point guard on the roster that can distribute and get to the hoop.
Additionally, Teague would be a steal if he falls this far in the draft.
30. Golden State Warriors: Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky
That's right, it is going to be another one of those years where Kentucky's entire team gets drafted.
Lamb lacks ideal size for a shooting guard, but he is the best talent available.
He also scores at will and could be a nice player at the next level.
The worry for Golden State is that they just had a pairing of an undersized shooting guard with Steph Curry, and it didn't end up so great.
But they need to shore up their off-guard spot, and Lamb at the very least provides depth.