2012 NBA Mock Draft: Late Bloomers Who Will Become Studs
The NBA’s one-and-done rule that allows 18 and 19 year olds the opportunity to play a grown man’s game leads to plenty of players that are deemed “projects.”
Even though the NBA may be sending mixed messages with this approach, it harbors numerous talents that are simply not mentally or physically ready…or both.
While there are plenty of teams that need a player who can make an immediate impact, others have the flexibility to draft a project and watch them blossom over the next two to three years.
Here are the top talents that need plenty of time to shore up their deficiencies, but have the potential to become an all-star down the line.
(Late Bloomers highlighted in italics)
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, PF - Kentucky
Davis may have to refine his offensive game over the next couple seasons, but there is no denying the instant impact he’ll have on the defensive end of the floor.
His ability to anticipate where rebounds will land is surreal, and he has discipline to stay on his feet until the shot goes up. He is going to be the leader of the unit right off the bat and will only get better as he learns to play on offense with his back to the basket.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, PF - Kansas
The Bobcats might end up trading this pick according to ESPN’s Chad Ford. He reports there is a difference of opinion among the front office between Robinson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
There are serious doubts about the ceiling of Robinson and considering he is only 6’9’’, those concerns are certainly warranted.
Then again, Robinson is the most NBA-ready player and considering the historically awful season Charlotte just had, maybe they should take the quick fix.
3. Washington Wizards: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF - Kentucky
This is a perfect fit.
The Wiz desperately need a defensive-minded presence that is athletic enough to run the floor with John Wall.
He has all of the athletic tools to suggest he can be a lockdown defender and guard any position aside from center. MKG has already shown the ability to finish on the fast break, but he still has a long way to go on the offensive end of the floor.
He has a jumper that needs work, doesn’t have much creativity off the dribble and isn’t the greatest passer.
Remember: He is 18 years old and has all of the potential in the world. Expect MKG to evolve at roughly the same rate this young and talented Wizards team does.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, SG - Florida
The Cavs are going to look for a wing player at this spot, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Harrison Barnes goes here.
But Beal, at 6’5’’ and 200 pounds, is a terrific athlete that can move very well without the ball and get his shot off in a hurry.
He isn’t afraid to go inside and can be an essential piece for a Cavs team with a bright future.
5. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, PF/C - UConn
There is no question a player who stands at 7’0’’ and weighs 280 pounds is going to get some serious looks from scouts.
He has sound athleticism, strong rebounding skills and can block shots right off the bat. Yet with a questionable passion for the game and a lack of an offensive arsenal, I think the Kings will be reaching here.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (from Brooklyn): Kendall Marshall, PG - North Carolina
There is no doubt the Trail Blazers will be looking for a point guard here, and Marshall is the best available.
Raymond Felton needs to be replaced, and Marshall can start right away. His court vision and size (6’4’’, 200 pounds) are NBA-ready, and while his shooting needs to improve, Marshall has an exciting future ahead of him.
7. Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes, SF - North Carolina
The Warriors need help on the wing, and Barnes is a great fit.
He is incredibly versatile, with three-point range and the ability to finish strong in traffic. Some are concerned with the way his sophomore year ended, but there is no question he has all-star potential.
8. Toronto Raptors: Jared Sullinger, PF - Ohio State
Aside from Robinson, Sullinger is the most NBA-ready in the draft.
His post-game is polished, and he has proven to be a prolific rebounder. With plenty of big game experience already under his belt, Sully can help the Raptors right off the bat.
9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson, PF - North Carolina
Henson is a great complement to Greg Monroe.
While Henson will certainly need to add weight to his 216-pound frame, he can be a serviceable rebounder and shot-blocker right off the bat. Henson can develop into one of the premiere defenders in the post in a few years for a Pistons team that could make the playoffs next year.
10. New Orleans (from Minnesota): Damian Lillard, PG - Weber State
Don’t be scared off by the fact Lillard played in the Big Sky.
He had arguably the best combine of any player and measures comparably to Derrick Rose (6’3’’, 190 pounds), which obviously excites scouts. He has top-notch athletic talent and the ability to score in bunches.
CBS Sports Jeff Goodman reported that he had the “best pure perimeter shot in the entire camp” and he showed off an outstanding basketball IQ as well.
I just don’t see him being a strong player right off the bat as he adjusts to an increase in the competition at the pro level, but he certainly has a bright future.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Dion Waiters, SG - Syracuse
When you are compared to Dwyane Wade…I’d say the future is bright.
Waiters’ agent told him to leave the combine festivities because a team in the lottery guaranteed he’ll be selected there, so he’ll go somewhere in the 10-13 range.
Portland needs scoring and Waiters is capable of scoring double-digits in his rookie season.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Meyers Leonard, C - Illinois
He measured at 7’1’’ with a 9’0’’ standing reach, which essentially guarantees he’ll be a decent rebounder in the NBA.
His agility and athleticism for a player of his stature is enough to convince the Bucks he can help them right away.
13. Phoenix Suns: Jeremy Lamb, SG - UConn
There was no question at the combine that Beal was the better player, but Lamb still has talent. His development is going to be slow, but he can be a starter for years on the right team.
14. Houston Rockets: Tyler Zeller, C - North Carolina
Zeller is a rebounder, but nothing more. He will hustle and dive for loose balls. He will bring plenty of energy.
That’s just fine, but he has a low ceiling that suggests he’ll never be more than a role player.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Austin Rivers, SG - Duke
The up-and-coming 76ers don’t need a ton of help, and can afford to bring on a project like Rivers.
The No. 1 prospect in the country a year ago, Rivers has the raw talent to become elite, but showed plenty of holes in his game at Duke.
Once he shores up his decision-making skills and works on the mechanics of his jumper, he’ll be a sound contributor for a team that is an emerging player in the Eastern Conference.
16. Houston Rockets (from New York): Terrence Jones, SF - Kentucky
It’s tough to gauge the direction of the Rockets right now, but drafting Jones would make plenty of sense.
At 6’8’’ he is a hybrid forward that can fill a ton of holes for Houston rather quickly. He is NBA-ready now.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Marcus Teague, PG - Kentucky
Jason Kidd needs to be replaced and Teague is the best point on the board.
Teague has incredible instincts: He knows when to push the pace and when to run the offense. His quickness allows him to blow by defenders and create open looks for others. He has already shown the ability to finish in traffic and be an aggressive slasher.
But he’s only 19, and will be stuck behind Kidd for another year. He’ll be a stud eventually, but not in his rookie season.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jeffery Taylor, SF - Vanderbilt
He has NBA-ready athleticism and arguably the smoothest jumper in the draft class. He can help the T-Wolves instantly.
19. Orlando Magic: Tony Wroten, PG - Washington
If Dwight Howard is still around, the Magic will likely get rid of Jameer Nelson, which means Wroten would be the smart pick.
At 6’6’’ and 205 pounds he has size, but the horrible mechanics on his jumper make me wonder if he’ll ever become a strong scorer at the next level.
20. Denver Nuggets: Perry Jones III, PF - Baylor
The Nuggets aren’t sure if they want to give JaVale McGee a big contract, and Jones III would be the big consolation prize. At 6’11’’ and 235 pounds, he is a terrific shot-blocker that has the chance to average 10 rebounds a game in his first year or two.
Yet his mental makeup and tendency to check out of games has teams worried. Does he want to be great?
While his offensive game will never be great, that’s perfectly OK for a Nuggets team that led the league in scoring last season. He is extremely raw, but I think the upside outweighs the downside this far back in the first round.
21. Boston Celtics: Terrence Ross, SG - Washington
With Ray Allen likely to depart, Boston has to draft more shooters and Ross fits the bill. At 6’7’’ and 200 pounds, he is a great athlete that would be a steal at No. 21.
22. Boston Celtics (from LA Clippers): Andrew Nicholson, PF - St. Bonaventure
He has been compared to David West, which would mean he is a great value pick.
While he’ll need to work on his defense, he has a wide repertoire on offense and a 6’10’’ frame that hints he can be a contributor right off the bat.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Royce White, SF/PF - Iowa State
His mental makeup will always be questioned, but there is no question he is an intriguing prospect.
White is very aggressive and attacks the rim, yet has a soft touch. His ball handling is superb for a 6’8’’ guy and he has a solid mid-range jumper as well.
A lot to like about White.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (from LA Lakers): Moe Harkless, SF - St. John’s
Harkless had a sound draft combine where he was able to show off his athletic ability and toughness. At 6’9’’ and 205 pounds, he has already shown he can score against strong competition. He averaged more than 15 points this past season in the Big East and that will translate to the NBA quickly.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Will Barton, SG - Memphis
A 6’6’’ swingman with terrific length, Barton can be the shooter that Memphis so badly needs right now.
And he doesn’t have to travel very far from where he played in college.
26. Indiana Pacers: Arnett Moultrie, PF - Mississippi State
His 6’11’’ frame is appealing, but his basketball IQ is not.
He needs time to develop and could eventually form a deadly frontcourt combo with Roy Hibbert. He’s athletic, has a soft touch and possesses sound footwork, but is a transfer from UTEP and doesn’t have great instincts.
If Moultrie is able to slowly get worked into the starting lineup and get the proper coaching, his explosive quickness and body control will shine.
27. Miami Heat: Fab Melo, C - Syracuse
Miami needs a defensive presence in the post, and Melo is just what the doctor ordered.
Draft Express compiled the numbers and Melo ranked sixth in the NCAA in blocks per 40 minutes and is terrific at moving his feet and closing out on the open man. He doesn’t need to score.
He is the perfect fit.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green, SG - Michigan State
The Thunder need the most NBA-ready player on the board, and there is no debate who that is. Green is an outstanding rebounder who can fill a variety of roles for arguably the most complete team in the NBA.
29. Chicago Bulls: Festus Ezeli, C - Vanderbilt
Guys who are 7’0’’, 265 pounds and are seasoned collegiate veterans will always find a spot at some point in the first round.
Ezeli will be a great backup for the Bulls.
30. Golden State (from San Antonio Spurs): Quincy Miller, SF - Baylor
His combine was awful, and there is no question he declared too early. His jumper is flat; he is an awful defender and doesn’t seem incredibly athletic.
Not exactly a killer combination.
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