2012 NBA Mock Draft: Grading ESPN Analyst Chad Ford's 30 Picks

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2012

2012 NBA Mock Draft: Grading ESPN Analyst Chad Ford's 30 Picks

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    Each year, ESPN Analyst Chad Ford provides us with an NBA mock draft ripe for critiquing.

    Though he himself admits that nothing is "set in stone" at the moment, there's only so much fluctuating that can occur once the draft order has been determined.

    How on point or off track was Ford's mock?

    Let's find out. 

1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis

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    Grade: A

    There's no other player like Anthony Davis in the draft, which means there's no other player the Hornets will consider drafting.

    Though the draft may not be set in stone, this pick is. So much so, in fact, that if Chad Ford had listed any other player, this piece you're reading right now wouldn't have existed, because his mock wouldn't have been worth acknowledging.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: None 

    Best Remaining Fit: Anthony Davis

2. Charlotte Bobcats: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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    Grade: A

    Much like Anthony Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist is a near lock to go at No. 2.

    While Kidd-Gilchrist is hardly a consolation prize for a Bobcats team that missed out on Davis, he does add athleticism and toughness. He also knows what it takes to win, a rarity in Charlotte these days.

    Thomas Robinson is also a possibility, but Ford gets it right here. Kidd-Gilchrist's enormous upside will prove too good pass up.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Thomas Robinson

    Best Remaining Fit: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal

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    Grade: B+

    For a Wizards team that was prepared to pair John Wall with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, drafting Bradley Beal makes sense.

    Beal is an efficient scorer who can even run the point when called upon and is arguably the third-best player in all the draft.

    That said, Washington could opt to go for athleticism and size, as Andray Blatche isn't playing at too high a level these days.

    So, while Beal is a strong possibility, it's likely the Wizards keep their options open leading into draft day.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Andre Drummond, Thomas Robinson

    Best Remaining Fit: Bradley Bill

4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Harrison Barnes

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    Grade: C-

    Harrison Barnes is an exceptional player, but not worthy of Cleveland using the fourth pick of the draft on.

    Ford justifies his reasoning by noting both Bradley Beal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be off the board, and that Thomas Robinson and Tristan Thompson aren't a good fit.

    And while all this could be true, the Cavaliers cannot pass up the opportunity to pick up sizable star potential, regardless of if they have reserves or not.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Andre Drummond, Thomas Robinson 

    Best Remaining Fit: Thomas Robinson

5. Sacramento Kings: Thomas Robinson

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    Grade: B

    If Thomas Robinson drops to fifth, he'll be a great pickup for the Kings and an even better fit alongside DeMarcus Cousins.

    But that's if he drops to fifth, which he won't, because he's the second-most talented big man in the draft and likely to be taken beforehand.

    Especially before Harrison Barnes.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Andre Drummond, Jared Sullinger

    Best Remaining Fit: Andre Drummond

6. Portland Trail Blazers (Via Brooklyn Nets): Andre Drummond

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    Grade: C

    Let's ignore the fact that Andre Drummond is likely to go before this and focus on how bad a fit he and LaMarcus Aldridge would be.

    Neither Aldridge nor Drummond is known for moving well without the ball, thereby ensuring a major logjam in the painted area.

    And as if that's not enough, haven't the Blazers learned not the latch themselves on to the biggest gamble in the draft by now?

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Terrence Jones, Perry Jones III, Jared Sullinger

    Best Remaining Fit: Jared Sullinger  

7. Golden State Warriors: Jared Sullinger

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    Grade: B-

    If the Warriors opt to draft big, Jared Sullinger is a solid choice here. However, if Golden State truly believes in low post tandem of Andrew Bogut and David Lee, it's a small forward that needs to be taken here.

    Sullinger would provide some insurance if Bogut goes down, yet that's the purpose of Andris Biedrins—it's the only one he has.

    Though Sullinger has a tremendous upside and presents very little risk, expect the Warriors to fill an actual need at this position.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Harrison Barnes, Terrence Jones, Jeremy Lamb

    Best Remaining Fit: Harrison Barnes

8. Toronto Raptors: Dion Waiters

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    Grade: D

    Dion Waiters is deceptively strong and extremely adept at getting to the rim, which is a rarity on the Raptors.

    That said, there are too many other talented players Toronto would have to pass up in order to select him.

    While the Raptors may not need a big man, expect them to either trade this pick or choose a big, for the sake of getting the most talented player left on the board before picking Waiters this high.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: John Henson, Perry Jones III, Jared Sullinger

    Best Remaining Fit: John Henson

9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson

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    Grade: B

    The PIstons don't have a lot of NBA-ready options here to pair with Greg Monroe, but they arguably can do better than John Henson. 

    Although Henson can defend multiple positions, he needs to fill out his body more before he can become consistently effective when doing so.

    Detroit is much better off selecting someone with a little more bulk to offer, that way they're ready to defend at the professional level immediately.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Perry Jones III, Tyler Zeller

    Best Remaining Fit: Perry Jones III

10. New Orleans Hornets (Via Minnesota Timberwolves): Damian Lillard

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    Grade: A

    After picking up Anthony Davis, many would expect the Hornets to go after a small forward, but it's Ford that has the right idea here.

    Al Farouq-Aminu and Trevor Ariza are more than sufficient at the 3. Drafting a point guard gives New Orleans someone other than Jarrett Jack to run the offense and provides the Hornets with a floor general of the future.

    Lillard is one of the more understated prospects in all the draft and New Orleans would be wise to heed Ford's prediction and not let him get away.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Jeremy Lamb, Kendall Marshall

    Best Remaining Fit: Damian Lillard

Portland Trail Blazers: Jeremy Lamb

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    Grade: C+

    Sorry Chad, but unless Nicolas Batum has made it clear that he's not returning to Portland, selecting another small forward is a bad idea.

    Though Lamb has potential, it's not exactly overwhelming, especially when the Blazers already have that position filled.

    A point guard at this stage would be more their speed.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Damian Lillard, Kendall Marshall, Austin Rivers

    Best Remaining Fit: Kendall Marshall 

12. Milwaukee Bucks: Perry Jones III

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    Grade: C+

    As the Bucks prepare for life permanently without Andrew Bogut, it becomes clear that they need to pack a bigger punch in the middle.

    While Perry Jones III would do just that, it's difficult to imagine him escaping the top 10.

    Luckily for Milwaukee, there are plenty of other low-post anchors available who will should be able to meet the team's needs.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: John Henson, Meyers Leonard, Tyler Zeller

    Best Remaining Fit: Tyler Zeller 

13. Phoenix Suns: Terrence Ross

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    Grade: B-

    Phoenix has an undeniable need at shooting guard, but could use a point guard or some who plays both slots more.

    Ross' shooting motion is incredibly fluid and uncannily smooth, but he's no playmaker.

    And with Steve Nash seemingly plotting his escape, the Suns need a playmaker, even if he is a work in progress.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Damian Lillard, Kendall Marshall, Austin Rivers

    Best Remaining Fit: Austin Rivers

14. Houston Rockets: Tyler Zeller

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    Grade: B

    It's hard to fault Ford too much here, because the Rockets need size and Tyler Zeller would be a picture-perfect fit.

    That said, there's only a slim chance that the Bucks allow Zeller to escape to escape their clutches with the 12th overall pick.

    Expect Houston to draft a potential solution to its deficiency of exuberant youth in the middle. Just don't expect it to come in the form of Zeller.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Meyers Leonard, Arnett Moultrie

    Best Remaining Fit: Meyers Leonard

15. Philadelphia 76ers: Arnett Moultrie

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    Grade: B

    With Spencer Hawes prepared to test free agency and Elton Brand's effectiveness wavering, it makes sense for the Sixers to draft someone to help plug the middle.

    That said, this someone is not Arnett Moultrie—not this early anyway. He's considerably more of a project than many of the other remaining athletes, posing as an unnecessary risk to a team who cannot afford any setbacks.

    Here, Ford has the right idea, just the wrong prospect.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Terrence Jones, Quincy Miller, Royce White

    Best Remaining Fit: Terrence Jones

16. Houston Rockets (Via New York Knicks): Terrence Jones

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    Grade: B+

    After rounding out the lottery by satisfying their need for size, it makes sense for the Rockets to draft a swingman.

    That said, Terrence Jones won't slip further than 15, rendering him out of reach.

    There are numerous players, though, whose value will deteriorate based on how the other dominoes fall, one of them being Jeremy Lamb, who is a slightly more realistic option to pursue here.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Jeremy Lamb, Quincy Miller

    Best Remaining Fit: Jeremy Lamb

17. Dallas Mavericks: Kendall Marshall

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    Grade: C-

    Kendall Marshall to the Mavericks is a sound concept, but one that will prove implausible.

    Despite a myriad of fresh injuries, it's unlikely Marshall falls out of the lottery, forcing the Mavericks to search elsewhere for help on the perimeter.

    They won't have to go far, though, as there are still a variety of options to choose from, even this late in the draft.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Moe Harkless, Quincy Miller, Austin Rivers, Marquis Teague, Tony Wroten

    Best Remaining Fit: Quincy Miller

18. Minnesota Timberwolves: Austin Rivers

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    Grade: D-

    Austin Rivers would be a passable fit next to Ricky Rubio, yet Ford underestimates the volume shooter's value.

    Rivers, while a clear work in progress, has the ability to play minutes at both the 1 and 2 and is one of the streakiest shooters in the entire nation.

    As inconsistent at the latter fact sounds, Rivers will be scooped up long before the Timberwolves have a chance to pick him.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Moe Harkless, Terrence Ross

    Best Remaining Fit: Terrence Ross

19. Orlando Magic: Meyers Leonard

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    Grade: F

    Putting aside the fact that Meyers Leonard clearly isn't falling this far, the Magic have little use for him unless they plan on dealing Dwight Howard before the NBA draft.

    What Orlando truly needs is a point guard. Jameer Nelson is set to explore the avenues free agency will offer, leaving the Magic with a point guard-sized hole in the rotation.

    Howard or no Howard, Orlando would be wise to latch itself onto a point guard here.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Austin Rivers, Marquis Teague, Tony Wroten

    Best Remaining Fit: Marquis Teague

20. Denver Nuggets: Moe Harkless

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    Grade: C-

    Moe Harkless would undoubtedly boost the Nuggets' offensive rotation quite a bit, but Denver needs to focus on grooming a backup point guard.

    Even if Andre Miller returns, he's not going to be around much longer.

    The Nuggets need someone to team up with Lawson for years to come, not just on a one-year contract filler.

    And unfortunately for them, Harkless is no floor general.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Austin Rivers, Marquis Teague, Dion Waiters, Tony Wroten

    Best Remaining Fit: Tony Wroten

21. Boston Celtics: Fab Melo

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    Grade: B-

    Fab Melo would be an interesting addition to the Celtics family, but his game is not indicative of a big man who can coexist with Rondo.

    Boston could also use some more firepower on the perimeter, a need they will definitely look to satisfy as well.

    At the end of the day, though, Melo's lethargic tendencies are a terrible fit within Doc Rivers' demanding coaching system.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Moe Harkless, Arnette Moultrie, Jeffery Taylor, Royce White

    Best Remaining Fit: Jeffery Taylor

22. Boston Celtics (Via Los Angeles Clippers): Andrew Nicholson

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    Grade: B

    Luckily for the Celtics, they will not have to worry about choosing small over big in their previous pick, as they own the rights to this one as well.

    As previously noted, the low post is cause for extreme concern. Kevin Garnett may bolt during free agency and aside from Brandon Bass, Boston is short on sizable role players.

    And this is where the Celtics will look to correct that—just not by selecting Andrew Nicholson too early.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Mo Harkless, Arnett Moultrie, Royce White

    Best Remaining Fit: Arnett Moultrie

23. Atlanta Hawks: Tony Wroten

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    Grade: B-

    Although the Hawks could use a true point guard to relieve Jeff Teague, the small forward slot is a more pressing need.

    Marvin Williams is a perpetual whiner and underachiever, and Atlanta needs to ensure it is covered for the future, or the "post-Williams era."

    Tony Wroten is one of the most athletic players in the draft, but has a lot of polishing up to do, and that's in addition to not filling the Hawks' greatest need.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Moe Harkless, Jeffery Taylor, Royce White

    Best Remaining Fit: Moe Harkless

24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Quincy Miller

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    Grade: D

    There is almost no chance that Quincy Miller is still waiting to be had this late in the first round.

    This prediction by Ford is also puzzling because he has the Cavaliers picking Harrison Barnes with the fourth overall selection. Talk about a logjam at small forward.

    The Cavaliers are more likely, and better off, to use this pick to add some versatility.

    A player who could spend time at any number of positions to increase the depth of Cleveland's rotation would go a long way toward the team making progress next season.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Furkan Aldemir, Arnett Moultrie, Royce White

    Best Remaining Fit: Royce White

25. Memphis Grizzlies: Evan Fournier

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    Grade: B-

    To be fair, Ford's logic makes sense here.

    O.J. Mayo could very well be as good as gone, leaving the Grizzlies with a gaping hole at the shooting guard position.

    However, Memphis is also in need of a backup point guard to strengthen their rotation. Selecting a guard capable of playing both positions would allow the organization to kill two birds with one stone.

    And that's always a good thing.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Tomas Satoransky, Doron Lamb, Dion Waiters

    Best Remaining Fit: Dion Waiters

26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague

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    Grade: B-

    If Marquis Teague is still available here, this is a great pick, but with the Magic in the market for a point guard, don't expect that to be the case.

    Ford is once again undervaluing a strong point guard in a shallow pool of talented floor generals.

    That said, the Pacers don't even need a point guard, they need an outside scoring touch, an issue they're sure to address here.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Evan Fournier, John Jenkins, Doron Lamb

    Best Remaining Fit: Evan Fournier

27. Miami Heat: Draymond Green

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    Grade: F

    Unless Ford knows that Chris Kaman is prepared to sign with the Heat for the veteran's minimum, this is a terrible prediction.

    Miami needs a center. It doesn't matter if they only had a second-round pick, they have to address their deficiencies inside.

    Any able-bodied player—with a height advantage—who can catch the ball would do.

    Draymond Green, at 6'6", hardly solves the height problem. Expect the Heat to take a different route.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Festus Ezeli, Fab Melo, Andrew Nicholson

    Best Remaining Fit: Fab Melo

28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jeffery Taylor

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    Grade: C+

    Ford is right about one thing: Jeffery Taylor is undervalued. Even so, he's not falling to the Thunder.

    And while Oklahoma City would welcome a backup swingman, there is also a need for a backup point guard.

    Derek Fisher is only getting older and after him, there's no one who can effectively direct an offense behind Russell Westbrook.

    That's more pressing than finding a small forward to play limited minutes.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: John Jenkins, Scott Machado, Dion Waiters

    Best Remaining Fit: John Jenkins

29. Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins

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    Grade: B+

    This is a solid pick from Ford.

    The Bulls need help greasing the wheels of the backcourt and John Jenkins would do just that.

    Unfortunately, though, there's a strong possibility he gets scooped up prior to Chicago's time on the clock, forcing the Bulls to look elsewhere for help at the 1 and 2.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Doron Lamb, Tomas Satoransky, Tyshawn Taylor

    Best Remaining Fit: Doron Lamb

30. Golden State Warriors (Via San Antonio Spurs): Royce White

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    Grade: B

    Royce White would add plenty of versatility to any Warriors lineup, but it's this very versatility that will have him off the board by the last pick of the first round.

    Golden State could definitely use a source of durable versatility, but it will have to look elsewhere for it.

    With no real game-changers available at this juncture, this is the time for the Warriors to go after some additional size.

    Other Potential Prospects to Consider: Festus Ezeli, Fab Melo, Andrew Nicholson

    Best Remaining Fit: Andrew Nicholson