NBA Draft 2012: Predicting How Top 14 Picks Will Shake out

Bob BajekAnalyst IIIMay 31, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: Predicting How Top 14 Picks Will Shake out

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    The NBA Draft Lottery ping-pong balls gifted the New Orleans Hornets with the No. 1 pick, screwed the Charlotte Bobcats and has many speculating that the event is rigged.

    Whatever your feelings are on how the NBA Draft Lottery panned out, the draft order will help provide more accurate NBA mock drafts.

    Who will be the Top 14 picks in this year's NBA draft?

No. 1 Pick: New Orleans Hornets Select Kentucky's Anthony Davis

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    The New Orleans Hornets will likely pick Kentucky's Anthony Davis with the NBA draft's No. 1 selection.

    Davis (6'10", 220 pounds) had a phenomenal freshman year for the Wildcats. He averaged a double-double (14.3 points, 10.0 rebounds) while swatting an NCAA best 187 shots (4.7 blocks per game).

    Davis' interior athleticism coupled with his solid passing (he was a guard in high school before he grew) make him such an attractive prospect.

    With New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson's recent purchase of the Hornets, Davis sure will help in exciting their fan base.

    Davis will join the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose as being the only Chicago natives selected first in the NBA draft.

No 2 Pick: Charlotte Bobcats Select Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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    The Charlotte Bobcats aren't getting Anthony Davis, but they aren't getting a horrid player in his Kentucky teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist either.

    Kidd-Gilchrist (6'7", 232 pounds) is the NBA draft's best small forward prospect. He had a solid freshman season (11.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists) while shooting an impressive 49.1 percent.

    Kidd-Gilchrist has size, speed, a solid jumper and a great ceiling.

    The Bobcats will immediately start Kidd-Gilchrist, as an old Corey Maggette and Derrick Brown both are nothing to write home about.

No. 3 Pick: Washington Wizards Select UConn's Andre Drummond

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    The Washington Wizards unloaded JaVale McGee to the Denver Nuggets, and Nene Hilario won't and shouldn't be the starting center for long. 

    The Wizards will select UConn's Andre Drummond with the third pick.

    Drummond has outstanding athleticism, size and length (6'11", 270 pounds) that makes him this year's top big man prospect and solid defensive skills (2.7 blocks per game).

    However, Drummond is mostly potential and has a raw offensive game, as he managed just 10 points a game for the Huskies with no mid-range game to speak of.

    The Wizards seem to take high-risk, high-reward guys (see John Wall, McGee), so Drummond makes sense.

No. 4 Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers Select Florida's Bradley Beal

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    Some might argue the Cleveland Cavaliers will take Kansas' Thomas Robinson with the No. 4 pick, but they already have Tristan Thompson as their power forward of the future.

    Instead, look for the Cavs to land Florida's Bradley Beal to give NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving an effective backcourt mate.

    Beal is this year's top shooting guard prospect with good athleticism and slashing ability. While he needs to work on his jumper a bit, Beal (6'4", 207 pounds) had an explosive freshman season with the Gators (14.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists) and won SEC All-Freshman Team and first-team All-SEC selections. 

    He would've been SEC Freshman of the Year if Kentucky didn't have Anthony Davis.

    Beal provides the scoring punch Cleveland lacked at the off-guard position (sorry, Anthony Parker and Daniel Gibson).

    A core of Irving, Beal and Thompson will move the Cavaliers closer to the NBA playoffs.

No. 5 Pick: Sacramento Kings Select North Carolina's Harrison Barnes

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    North Carolina's Harrison Barnes is a scoring small forward, something the Sacramento Kings will not overlook with the No. 5 pick.

    Barnes has good size (6'8", 212 pounds), has averaged 15.7 and 17.1 points per game during his two years with the Tar Heels and was one of the nation's top high school recruits.

    Barnes still needs to work on his slashing to the hoop, but teammates Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans will open the driving lanes for him.

    This move makes sense for the Kings because Evans is better at the point guard position (moving Isaiah Thomas to the bench) and struggled as a small forward.

    This also allows Jimmer Fredette to be traded.

    Evans, Thornton, Barnes and DeMarcus Cousins form a strong core for the Kings moving forward.

No. 6 Pick: Portland Trail Blazers Select Weber State's Damian Lillard

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    The Portland Trail Blazers need a point guard, so they will pick Weber State's Damian Lillard with the No. 6 selection as Raymond Felton's services won't be retained. 

    Lillard (6'2", 190 pounds) is the NBA draft's top point guard prospect as he is a scoring point guard (24.5 points per game) with great athleticism.

    Lillard's scoring ability will be attractive to the Trail Blazers, as they lost their leading scorer Brandon Roy to retirement.

    Portland will look to move forward with Wesley Matthews, Lillard, Nicholas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge as their core.

No. 7 Pick: Golden State Warriors Select UConn's Jeremy Lamb

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    Moving Monta Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks for Andrew Bogut left the Golden State Warriors with a glaring hole at shooting guard.

    The Warriors will rectify that hole with UConn's Jeremy Lamb.

    Lamb (6'5", 180 pounds) is a scoring off-guard (17.7 points per game) who has above-average athleticism, can attack the basket and possesses a lethal jumper.

    Lamb, coupled with Stephen Curry, will give the Warriors another potent one-two punch in their backcourt.

No. 8 Pick: Toronto Raptors Select Kansas' Thomas Robinson

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    The Toronto Raptors wanted a shooting guard in the NBA draft, but they will pick the best talent available with Florida's Bradley Beal and UConn's Jeremy Lamb off the table.

    That's not a bad thing, as the Raptors will grab Kansas' Thomas Robinson to fix their frontcourt problems.

    Robinson is a top-five talent in the draft, but will slip due to teams drafting for their needs.

    Robinson (6'8", 240 pounds) is a bit undersized as a power forward, but his strength and post intensity make him a valuable player.

    Drafting Robinson allows the Raptors to move Andrea Bargnani (7'0", 255 pounds) to center. Robinson's strength and Bargnani's shooting abilities will give opposing defenses headaches.

No. 9 Pick: Detroit Pistons Select North Carolina's John Henson

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    Center Greg Monroe needs an athletic frontcourt mate, and the Detroit Pistons will give him one in North Carolina's John Henson.

    Henson (13.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.9 blocks) can rebound and block shots. His solid length (6'10") and vertical will give the Pistons solid size.

    One knock on Henson is lacks a mid-range game and needs to bulk up (220 pounds), but he played three years with the Tar Heels and has good fundamentals.

    Henson will work on his weaknesses and be a solid NBA baller.

No. 10 Pick: New Orleans Hornets Select Baylor's Perry Jones III

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    The New Orleans Hornets will look to add to their frontcourt depth by selecting Baylor's Perry Jones III with the No. 10 pick.

    Jones (6'11", 235 pounds) can play either of the forward positions and is a strong post player (14 points, 7.7 rebounds).

    The Hornets can experiment with Jones and Kentucky's Anthony Davis at both forward positions, seeing which position fits them better.

    Jones, Davis and Emeka Okafor (6'10", 255 pounds) will provide their frontcourt with athleticism and length. Along with Jarrett Jack and Eric Gordon, the Hornets starting lineup will be one of the NBA's best.

No. 11 Pick: Portland Trail Blazers Select North Carolina's Tyler Zeller

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    Greg Oden's failed potential left the Portland Trail Blazers with an enormous hole at center, so expect the Blazers to snag North Carolina's Tyler Zeller with the No. 11 pick.

    Zeller (7'0", 250 pounds) is the NBA draft's second best center prospect and is seasoned after playing four years with the Tar Heels.

    Zeller can score, rebound and defend well. He is speedy for a center and has a nice jump hook.

    Along with LaMarcus Aldridge, Zeller will give the Blazers one of the NBA's best frontcourt duos.

No. 12 Pick: Milwaukee Bucks Select Washington's Terrence Ross

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    The Milwaukee Bucks need a center after unloading Andrew Bogut, but UConn's Andre Drummond and North Carolina's Tyler Zeller will be off the board.

    Illinois' Meyers Leonard is a solid prospect, but his offensive deficiencies will make the Bucks balk in picking him.

    Instead, they will take the best talent available with Washington's Terrence Ross.

    Ross (6'6", 195 pounds) was an effective swingman for the Huskies who can be a solid NBA small forward. He can score inside and outside while providing good rebounding (6.4 boards per game).

    Ross can replace Carlos Delfino (his contract expires) if he bulks up.

    A backcourt of Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings and Ross would be deadly.

No. 13 Pick: Phoenix Suns Select North Carolina's Kendall Marshall

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    Steve Nash already has one foot out the door in Phoenix.

    The Suns need a point guard of the future.

    North Carolina's Kendall Marshall will be their guy.

    Marshall is the best passing point guard in the NBA draft and will provide the smoothest transition from Nash.

    He has good size for an NBA floor general (6'4", 190 pounds) with a solid jumper, good strength and high basketball IQ.

    Marshall lacks lateral quickness, but his passing abilities will be too much to pass up.

No. 14 Pick: Houston Rockets Select Duke's Austin Rivers

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    The best big men (Andre Drummond, Tyler Zeller, Perry Jones III, Thomas Robinson) will be taken by this pick.

    The Houston Rockets need a big man, but they will hold off until the No. 16 pick for Illinois center Meyers Leonard as the Philadelphia 76ers will look for a power forward or shooting guard. 

    The Rockets will take the best talent available, and that will be Duke's Austin Rivers.

    Rivers (6'4", 200 pounds) is a scoring shooting guard who can create his own shot. He also has good athleticism and is driven to be great.

    Rivers does need to improve his shot selection and work on his passing a bit, but he provides Houston will the flexibility to trade Kevin Martin for maybe a small forward (he has one year left on his contract).

What Do You Think?

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    I had my say in my NBA lottery mock draft, but what do you think?

    What's your order? Did I unfairly leave off potential lottery selections like Kentucky's Terrence Jones,  Mississippi State's Arnett Moultrie and Ohio State's Jared Sullinger?

    Voice off in the comments section.

     

    Bob Bajek is an NBA/Chicago Bulls featured columnist. He is also a freelance reporter and can be followed on Patch.com and Twitter.