NBA Mock Draft 2012: Ideal Landing Spots for Stars of Tomorrow
The 2012 NBA draft is only two weeks away, which means that the draft boards are starting to look a little more consistent.
Volatility still remains, though, as each and every general manager in the league looks to find the perfect, safe, high-upside prospect who fits in flawlessly with the rest of his team's roster.
Unfortunately, such ideal prospects are hard to find, and teams often reach for talent at the expense of a perfect fit.
Here's my latest mock draft, highlighting the future stars who are perfect fits with their potential new teams.
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Anthony Davis is on an entirely different level as a prospect, which makes him a perfect fit with almost any team. The Unibrow is a sensational defender with an underrated offensive game that is very much still a work in progress.
It shouldn't surprise you at all when Davis is named Rookie of the Year at the completion of the 2012-2013 regular season and has the New Orleans Hornets in contention for a playoff spot.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
The Charlotte Bobcats are in an interesting spot here because they don't truly need any of the remaining top-five prospects: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson, Bradley Beal and Andre Drummond.
Small forward is the biggest hole in the lineup for Michael Jordan's team because there are decent players with upside manning the other four positions. MKG is the best player left on the board, but his motor and defensive skills don't give the Bobcats the offense that they need.
3. Washington Wizards: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
Lately, I've been having dreams in which John Wall and Thomas Robinson run up and down the court, dominating the opposition in transition. Occasionally, Robinson dunks the ball so hard after an alley-oop lob from his point guard that the rattling of the rim and the crashing of the basket to the ground wake me up.
With his unrelenting energy and physical tools, Robinson is going to make an immediate impact in the NBA.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, Florida
With his well-rounded offensive game and ability to play big for his size, Bradley Beal is going to be the next great shooting guard in the NBA.
He couldn't ask for a better situation than landing on an up-and-coming Cleveland Cavaliers squad with one of the best young point guards that the game has to offer.
5. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, Connecticut
With the ridiculous amount of guards on the roster and the presence of DeMarcus Cousins, the Sacramento Kings have to go big at No. 5 to complete the frontcourt.
Andre Drummond may be the risky pick here, but he's the right call for the Kings. There's no telling whether he'll be the next Dwight Howard or the next K.B.
Those initials do not stand for Kobe Bryant.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via Brooklyn Nets): Damian Lillard, Weber State
It's becoming more and more clear that neither Jamal Crawford nor Raymond Felton has a future in Portland, which means that the first priority for the team is finding a point guard who can run the team for the rest of the decade.
Damian Lillard keeps creeping up the draft boards, and for good reason, as he's definitely the No. 1 point guard in this class with his ability to both pass and score at a high level.
7. Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
While this is the perfect spot for Harrison Barnes—a lineup with a hole at small forward only filled by Dorell Wright and a point guard with solid passing skills and a flair for creativity—the North Carolina Tar Heel's name isn't in italics because I don't see him becoming a star.
As great as Barnes shot may be, he doesn't have the ability to become too much more than a spot-up shooter at small forward unless he drastically improves other areas of his game.
8. Toronto Raptors: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
Jeremy Lamb appeared disinterested at the combine, both while he was participating in drills and going through the interview process. That doesn't help change the perception that his motor only goes up to about five out of 10.
However, Lamb remains a tremendous offensive prospect with the tantalizing ability to pull up off the dribble and drain jumper after jumper.
9. Detroit Pistons: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
The biggest knock against Jared Sullinger is that he struggles against length. That won't be a problem if he finds himself in the right situation: a team with another great offensive big man who can wrest away some of the defensive attention.
Such is the case with the Detroit Pistons, whose best player is a young center named Greg Monroe who specializes on the offensive end of the court.
10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Assuming that the New Orleans Hornets retain the services of Eric Gordon, now a restricted free agent, the only gaping hole in the lineup is at small forward. Al-Farouq Aminu could eventually fill that hole, but remedying it through the draft seems to be a better option.
Terrence Jones has enough upside to make this pick a steal, and he already has a great deal of chemistry with Anthony Davis, seeing as they spent a year together in Lexington and won a championship.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Austin Rivers, Duke
Austin Rivers has a guarantee from a team picking late in the lottery, and there aren't many better fits than the Portland Trail Blazers. The Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets don't need a 2-guard, and the Phoenix Suns seem to be committing to someone else.
That leaves the Blazers.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Meyers Leonard, Illinois
After a great showing at the combine, Meyers Leonard is moving up the boards and passing John Henson and Tyler Zeller in the process.
A true seven-footer with a very high ceiling, Leonard will take a while to adjust to the NBA, but the result could be scary when he finally does so.
13. Phoenix Suns: Dion Waiters, Syracuse
According to the Journal-Times' Gary Woelfel, "I’ve been told by two NBA officials that it is the Phoenix Suns, who pick right after the Bucks."
This, of course, refers to which team promised to draft Dion Waiters in the lottery, causing him to sit out during the combine.
14. Houston Rockets: Perry Jones III, Baylor
At this point, Perry Jones III is just too talented to pass up, especially since the Rockets are now guaranteed to be able to pick a North Carolina big man with one of the two picks.
If PJ3 can play with passion during his NBA career, this will be one of the steals of the draft.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: John Henson, North Carolina
Making this pick would almost ensure that Spencer Hawes finds another team now that he's a restricted free agent.
John Henson has all the talent in the world and should be a lottery pick, but his limitations of the offensive end of the court are holding back his stock and allowing him to slip to the Philadelphia 76ers.
16. Houston Rockets (via New York Knicks): Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
Tyler Zeller is by no means the sexiest pick in the draft, but he is one of the safest.
The former Tar Heel will never develop into a superstar at the next level, but he's almost a sure thing to be a contributing member of the rotation. Expect a lot of 12-point, eight-rebound games out of Zeller while he plays solidly in just about every facet of the game.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
With Jason Kidd now an unrestricted free agent, the Dallas Mavericks should target Kendall Marshall in the draft.
He's one of the most NBA-ready floor generals even if his upside is tempered by the fact that he can't score or play defense.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah Jazz): Terrence Ross, Washington
It's hard not to love this fit for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who would be stealing a lottery-level talent at No. 18 by drafting Terrence Ross.
An insane athlete, Ross works perfectly with Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and the rest of the Wolves lineup. They need a quality shooting guard, and that's exactly what Ross is.
19. Orlando Magic: Marquis Teague, Kentucky
Jameer Nelson is likely going to pick up his player option and stay with the Orlando Magic for one more year, but the squad would need a replacement for their longtime point guard after that.
Marquis Teague improved throughout his freshman year at Kentucky and showed a lot of promise during March Madness.
20. Denver Nuggets: Moe Harkless, St. John's
There's a chance that another team drafting earlier falls in love with Moe Harkless and reaches him, but he won't fall past this deep Denver Nuggets squad.
Harkless won't be asked to contribute right away, as the Nuggets let him develop from a raw athlete with quick hands into a quality two-way player.
21. Boston Celtics: Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
It made no sense for Arnett Moultrie to sit out during the combine and decide not to show off the physical tools and skills that could counteract his mental red flags and boost him up into the lottery.
The Boston Celtics certainly don't mind.
22. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Quincy Miller, Baylor
If Quincy Miller can learn how to shoot the ball, he'll make good on his massive upside and provide the Boston Celtics with the next great small forward once Paul Pierce decides to call it quits on his storied NBA career.
Miller looks like Kevin Durant in a lot of ways, other than the lack of a consistent jumper.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Royce White, Iowa State
The best thing about Royce White is that he's not named Marvin Williams.
Atlanta desperately needs a new small forward, even more so than it needs a true center. White, who has interviewed well while maintaining his tools, has all the potential in the world and one of the most unique sets of skills in draft history.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
After taking Bradley Beal with the No. 4 pick of the draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers can afford to look for frontcourt depth at No. 24.
Here's what CBS's Jeff Goodman had to say about Andrew Nicholson after the combine:
No one looked better in the workout setting than the former St. Bonnies star from Canada. He's so skilled -- and made shots from everywhere. At one point, I watched him drill 15 consecutive shots from just about every spot on the court. Strength is a concern at the next level, but he looked phenomenal in terms of his ability to score the ball in a variety of ways.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Evan Fournier, France
The Memphis Grizzlies are deep enough that they can afford to draft-and-stash with their first-round pick.
Evan Fournier has a lot of potential thanks to his above-average athleticism, his willingness to go to the rim and the feel with which he plays the game.
26. Indiana Pacers: Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt
Jeffery Taylor is sickeningly athletic and plays perimeter defense with a ferocity that would quickly endear him to the rest of the Indiana Pacers roster.
A hard-nosed player, Taylor fits in perfectly with the Pacers.
27. Miami Heat: Fab Melo, Syracuse
While Fab Melo doesn't possess the all-around game necessary to be a star in The Association, he is a terrific defender.
And he's a center, a position which the Miami Heat need a lot of help at.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green, Michigan State
A well-rounded player with leadership skills flowing from every fiber of his being, Draymond Green is the ideal player for the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 28.
The Thunder just need more depth in their lineup, especially at small forward, so that Kevin Durant can eventually take breaks from the action.
29. Chicago Bulls: Doron Lamb, Kentucky
Doron Lamb may be the second-best Lamb in this draft class, but the Chicago Bulls would be ecstatic if he fell to them.
Selecting Lamb with the penultimate pick of the first round would complete the Chicago lineup, providing it with a two-way shooting guard.
30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio Spurs): Tony Wroten, Washington
After selecting Harrison Barnes with their first pick in the first round, the Dubs can afford to go for the "best player available" strategy and select Tony Wroten, a high-upisde combo guard whose stock has been slipping more than it should.
Wroten nearly won the Pac-12 Player of the Year award as a freshman and plays an NBA-style game, which will make him a very valuable backup guard.
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