The 2012 NBA draft is under two weeks away, and certain NBA general managers are going to be under the gun to make the right move to improve their respective teams.
However, a lot of these GM’s don’t exactly have a track record of great success in striking gold with their decisions.
In my latest mock, I take a look at some of those general managers who could possibly strike out once again.
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Hornets general manager Dell Demps can’t screw this up even if he tried.
Davis is a player to build around, and although the Cavs already made one of what could be many monster offers for the pick, this is a no-brainer, as Demps will keep the pick and select Davis.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
I like Rich Cho as a young general manager, but I don’t like Michael Jordan having any impact at all on who the Bobcats select here.
As a matter of fact, anyone the Bobcats take here is a huge mistake.
After winning a mere seven games a season ago, the only smart move is to deal this pick and accumulate picks that can be turned into as much talent as possible.
If they stay here, I like Robinson and the 27 double-doubles he put up on the season at Kansas, but Robinson alone doesn’t do much to help turn the Bobcats around.
3. Washington Wizards: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
MKG is a safe pick here for the Wizards, one that Ernie Grunfeld probably should make.
There have been a lot of knuckleheads traveling through Washington the past few years. Think Gilbert Arenas, JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche.
The Wizards need a leader and a high-character guy for a change, and those are Kidd-Gilchrist’s best traits. He won’t be a top-of-the-line NBA scorer, but he will contribute in every area on the floor, especially defensively, and can be a guy that can help change the culture in Washington.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, Florida
I have a feeling that Cavs general manager Chris Grant is going with Harrison Barnes here, which would be a mistake with Beal still on the board.
Even though the Cavs need a wing player, I like pairing Kyrie Irving with a potentially dominant 2-guard like Beal. I just can’t let Beal slide past this spot, despite the early reports.
5. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, Connecticut
Geoff Petrie must come out of this with a big man to pair with DeMarcus Cousins, and if he goes with Drummond, the results could well be worth the wait as Drummond develops.
Drafting Drummond would give the Kings a massive front line, adding Drummond's athleticism, rebounding and shot-blocking to Cousins' polished offensive game.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey Nets): Damian Lillard, Weber State
New Blazers GM Neil Olshey can come away with Portland’s point guard of the future here in Lillard.
The Weber State product wowed scouts at the combine with his shooting ability and overall game. He won’t be there when the Blazers pick again at No. 11.
7. Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Personally, I think Warriors general manager Bob Meyers would be better off trading this pick for an established small forward.
However, if he doesn’t, and Barnes is still on the board, Golden State would be wise to take his scoring ability (17.1 PPG) here.
8. Toronto Raptors: Dion Waiters, Syracuse
Toronto general manager Bryan Colangelo needs to ship this pick out for an established wing player, especially with Jonas Valanciunas coming over this season.
If the Raptors don’t trade it, I’m torn between Waiters and Jeremy Lamb here, but since Waiters has reportedly been given a lottery promise by the Phoenix Suns (per ProBasketballTalk.com), I will give the edge to Waiters. His stock is high, and there's a good chance he doesn't make it to Phoenix at No. 13.
Toronto has enough jump shooters. What they need is a guy that is tough and can get to the basket.
9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson, North Carolina
Joe Dumars can go multiple directions with this pick, but when it’s all said and done, the Pistons need an athlete to pair with Greg Monroe.
Henson has size and outstanding rebounding (10.1 RPG) and shot-blocking abilities (2.9 BPG) and could form a very nice pair with Monroe.
10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Meyers Leonard, Illinois
Demps can lock up his future frontcourt with selecting Leonard here.
His stock is up after the combine, and a future frontcourt of Davis and Leonard could be very imposing in New Orleans.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
The Blazers will have the cap room to attract a big, and there’s no point in reaching on one here with Leonard already off the board.
Instead, adding Lamb, who has the ability to be a No. 1 scoring option (17.7 PPG) in the NBA, makes sense. A future Portland backcourt of Lillard and Lamb looks nice on paper.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State.
Milwaukee could use a productive big man here, and while I love Sullinger’s post game, I don’t like him to be a very productive NBA player.
Bucks general manager John Hammond will be making a mistake here drafting off Sully’s college numbers, which look good at 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds throughout his career.
But there are many better athletes in the draft, as Sullinger could be the worst athlete taken in the first round. The NBA has the best athletes in the world, and that’s something I think Sullinger will ultimately end up struggling to deal with.
13. Phoenix Suns: Austin Rivers, Duke
The Suns need some star power, especially if Steve Nash leaves and Rivers has the ability to be an NBA star.
Phoenix GM Lance Blanks should make a point to not pass on Rivers here. He has some developing to do, but he’s a natural scorer, averaging 15.5 points per game on the season at Duke.
14. Houston Rockets: Terrence Ross, Washington
Ross is a steal at No. 14 for the Rockets, who need backcourt depth.
He’s a 6’7” guard who can score from anywhere on the floor and could eventually force Rockets GM Daryl Morey to eventually trade Kevin Martin.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Perry Jones III, Baylor
Someone has to roll the dice on the potential of Jones, and the Sixers can’t let him drop any more.
Whoever takes the Sixers’ general manager job could get off to a good start by getting a guy with top-five talent this late in the draft.
16. Houston Rockets (via New York Knicks): Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
Zeller is a nice pick here for GM Morey, who I already have selecting Ross.
He won’t be a start, but he’s a legit seven-footer and is very good fundamentally. He will quietly be productive in the NBA.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Marshall may have to work on some things offensively, but he sees the floor great, and as a facilitator, there’s no one better in the draft than Marshall, who averaged 9.8 assists on the season.
He takes care of the ball, evidenced by a 3.48 assist-to-turnover ratio and is the rare type of player that makes everyone on the floor better. With the ball in his hands, he could remind Dallas fans of their last point guard, Jason Kidd.
If he has a career half as good as Kidd’s, this will be a good pick.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah Jazz): Moe Harkless, St. John's
David Kahn is in a very tough spot, as the Wolves need a shooter to go alongside Ricky Rubio.
But with the best ones already off the board, he has the option of trading down here and stockpiling a couple of picks for the future.
If the Wolves stay at No. 18 and a guy like Ross is already off the board, Kahn comes out of the draft without filling Minnesota’s biggest need.
If they go with frontcourt depth, he ultimately makes it tougher on last season’s No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams to get consistent minutes.
Instead, I like the upside of Harkless here, who can play the 3 and has outstanding athleticism and a solid offensive attack (15.5 PPG). Harkless is also a very good rebounder (8.6 RPG), but while he has a very bright future, he does very little to solve the Timberwolves' shooting issues.
19. Orlando Magic: Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
Moultrie is a guy I like a lot, but also one who made a very bad decision to not work out at the combine.
He can play the 4 or the 5 and can score from the inside or outside, but he also has the athleticism of a guard.
With Dwight Howard possibly on his way out the door, no matter who the GM in Orlando will be, he truly can’t win with this pick.
The only thing to do is bank on upside, and Moultrie has a ton of it.
20. Denver Nuggets: Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Denver doesn’t have any immediate holes, so it can take the best player on the board. Right now, I have that as Jones.
He will add depth to an already deep Nuggets rotation and is a guy that can score at any level, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 33 percent from behind the arc. He should fit in nicely with George Karl’s up-tempo attack.
21. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
Nicholson can play the game and produces across the board, averaging 18.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.
I love him for Boston here and think he can come in and be very productive. He shot 57 percent from the floor and 43 percent from behind the arc.
He could be a steal here.
22. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Royce White, Iowa State
White has some off-court issues, including an anxiety disorder and a fear of flying, but without that, he has top-10 talent.
He averaged 13.4 points and 9.3 rebounds on the year but also led the Iowa State team and ranked fifth in the Big 12 Conference in assists (5.0 APG).
White adds depth immediately and could be a long-term replacement for Paul Pierce down the road.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Tony Wroten, Washington
Rick Sund is a good general manager who has made some bad decisions (think Joe Johnson’s contract).
He’s in a spot where the Hawks are going to have a hard time improving from where they are now.
I like a guy like Wroten and think he has a ton of potential, but coming off a horrible combine where he answered none of the questions that surround his game, this is a risky pick. But, eventually, Sund will hit a home run with a point guard.
Wroten shot only 16 percent from behind the arc on the season and turned the ball over 3.8 times per game to only 3.7 assists.
If he improves on those areas, Sund looks like a genius.
If he doesn’t, well, just add another to a long list of bad moves.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Fab Melo, Syracuse
Cleveland needs athletes and size. After already getting Beal, the Cavs can gamble on Melo’s potential.
He needs some time to develop, especially on the offensive end, but the talent is there to do so.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Doron Lamb, Kentucky
Lamb could be a steal here, as he’s a lethal shooter, knocking down 47 percent of his three-point attempts. And no team in the NBA may need shooters as bad as the Grizzlies.
26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague, Kentucky
Teague will need time to develop but was impressive in March, as he really came on strong in helping lead Kentucky to the national championship.
He would be Indiana’s point guard of the future, and it could then attempt to deal Darren Collison.
27. Miami Heat: Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt
Taylor is an elite athlete with a ton of upside.
He’s a lockdown defender with range on his jumper. Kind of sounds like the type of player the Heat could use right now.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green, Michigan State
Green doesn’t do anything great, but he does a lot of things very well.
The Thunder just need depth here, and Green is a guy that can come off the bench and produce in different ways.
29. Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
Jenkins could be the best shooter in the draft, connecting on 44 percent of his shots from behind the arc, but he also has the ability to finish around the basket.
The Bulls need other scoring options, and Jenkins is a guy who could turn into a replacement for Richard Hamilton down the road.
30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio Spurs): Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
Adding more size is a plus here for Golden State if it keeps the pick, and while Ezeli is raw offensively, he has some talent, averaging 10.0 points per game and shooting 60 percent from the floor.
He has size and experience and can contribute immediately blocking shots (2.0 BPG) and rebounding (5.9 RPG).
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