2012 NBA Mock Draft: Borderline Playoff Teams That Must Hit Big

Matt Shetler@@buccos12Correspondent IJune 20, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 31:  Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts after the Buckeyes lose to the Kansas Jayhawks 64-62 during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on March 31, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

With the 2012 NBA draft under 10 days away, it’s make or break time for several NBA teams as they look to add the missing piece in order to get their respective teams over the hump.

That especially holds true for the borderline playoff teams who could make a postseason run by adding the right player. If they miss on that pick, it could be back to the lottery in 2013.

The pressure is on—let’s take a look at what those borderline teams should do.



1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, Kentucky

No surprise here for the Hornets. Davis is a player they can build around. The Kentucky freshman is a lock to go No. 1 overall.


2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, Kansas

If Charlotte keeps this pick, which it shouldn’t, Robinson is the best bet.

He’s not a franchise-changer like Davis, but is a physical and athletic 4 that would be an instant upgrade in Charlotte. He had 27 double-doubles on the season at Kansas and is ready to be productive in the NBA.


3. Washington Wizards: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky               

Kidd-Gilchrist is a safe pick here for the Wizards.

MKG gives Washington a much-needed athletic defensive stopper and a high-character guy who is a natural leader. That’s something that’s needed on the Wizards roster.


4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, Florida

While the Cavs love Harrison Barnes, given the choice, I just can’t see them passing on Beal here.

Both guys have the potential to be top scoring options in the NBA, but adding the dominant 2-guard to pair with Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving makes a lot of sense for Cleveland.


5. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, Connecticut

Drummond is a question mark, but adding his athleticism, shot-blocking (2.9 BPG) and rebounding skills (7.6 RPG) will help fix the worst defense in the NBA. The Kings gave up a league-worst 104.4 points per game.

Paired with DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings could have a very big frontline.


6. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey Nets): Damian Lillard, Weber State

I love Lillard here for the Blazers, who need a point guard.

He impressed at the combine and showed that the 24.5 points per game he averaged wasn’t directly related to playing in a smaller conference.


7. Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina

The Warriors need a small forward here who can be productive. That’s something Barnes can definitely do after averaging 17.1 points per game on the season.


8. Toronto Raptors: Dion Waiters, Syracuse

The Raptors would love to grab a 3 here, but they also need a guard that can get to the basket and make plays.

That sums up Waiters' game as he’s a very tough player. Toronto has a bunch of jump shooters on its roster, and the toughness of Waiters will come in handy.


9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson, North Carolina

The Pistons need an athletic big man to pair alongside Greg Monroe. While Henson is a reach at No. 9, he is extremely athletic, can rebound (10.1 RPG) and block shots (2.9 BPG).

His offensive game is raw, but Henson will make the Pistons a better team instantly.


10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Perry Jones III, Baylor

On talent alone, Jones should go in the top five. While he is really a 4 that projects to a 3 in the NBA, someone is going to roll the dice on his talent.

Why not the Hornets? They have the chance to add two of the best prospects in the draft. If they both reach their potential, this could be a huge draft for the rebuilding Hornets.


11. Portland Trail Blazers: Meyers Leonard, Illinois

Portland needs a big man for the future and Leonard could be that player.

Leonard created a ton of buzz at the combine and has seen his stock shoot way up. He has some developing to do, but the Illinois product has a ton of upside.


12. Milwaukee Bucks: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State   

I haven’t been very high on Sullinger and I’m even less high on him now that some red flags about his health have been raised.

The Bucks missed the playoffs by four games this season and they need a productive big man.

While I don’t like Sullinger’s lack of athleticism, I do like his post-game. He’s a guy that averaged 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds throughout his career at Ohio State.

He may not be the best athlete, but he knows how to play the game and could be a good fit in Milwaukee.


13. Phoenix Suns: Austin Rivers, Duke

Rivers can help the Suns fill a need at the 2 and can also give the Suns some potential star power. That is something they are lacking, especially if Steve Nash leaves as a free agent.

He has the potential to be a natural scorer (15.5 PPG) and could become a No. 1 scoring option down the road.

Rivers has range on his jumper and is also a creative finisher around the rim.

He must get better playing without the ball and use his teammates better, but he measured at 6’5” and could turn into a very good NBA scorer.


14. Houston Rockets: Terrence Ross, Washington

The Rockets need backcourt depth and while the other 2-guards in this draft get all of the attention, Ross could turn out to be the best of them.

He has great size for the position at 6’6” and can do anything on the floor very well.

Ross can score from the inside or outside, averaging 16.4 points while shooting 37 percent from behind the arc. He’s also a very good defender, can handle the ball well and is one of the best rebounding guards in the draft, pulling down 6.4 boards per night.

Adding a guy like Ross could make Kevin Martin expendable during the season as Martin’s contract is set to expire after the 2013 season.


15. Philadelphia 76ers: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut

The Sixers made the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, but one thing they showed during their postseason run is the lack of a go-to-scorer.

Lamb fits that bill as he averaged 17.7 points per game while at UConn.

He can extend his game beyond the arc—shooting 33.6 percent from three-point range—but has a devastating mid-range game.

Lamb is young, but has a ton of upside and could be a steal at No. 15 for the Sixers.


16. Houston Rockets (via New York Knicks): Tyler Zeller, North Carolina

Houston also needs a productive big man, and while I don’t see him becoming an All-Star, I do see Zeller being a productive NBA big.

He’s athletic, can run the floor well and has very good leaping skills. Zeller is also very good fundamentally and has a soft touch around the rim, shooting 55 percent from the floor during his senior season at North Carolina.

He likely won’t average the 16.6 points and 9.6 rebounds he did during his senior season, but he will be productive and he fills a need in Houston.


17. Dallas Mavericks: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina   

Just a year after winning the NBA championship, the Mavs were only the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference in 2012.

By selecting Marshall, they get a point guard similar to the one they had in Jason Kidd.

He’s an effortless passer and outstanding decision-maker, averaging 9.8 assists per game and posting a 3.48 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Marshall needs to work on some things at both ends of the floor, but he’s a player who just simply makes everyone around him better.


18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah Jazz): Terrence Jones, Kentucky 

Ideally, the Wolves would hope Ross or another shooter would fall to them, but they can take the next-best thing in Jones.

He’s a guy that shot 50 percent from the floor and 33 percent from behind the arc, but he can also defend the 3 or the 4 and is a very good rebounder, averaging 7.2 rebounds on the season.

Jones is very athletic, strong and is a good finisher and rebounder in traffic.

He will serve as a nice depth piece for a team looking to make a playoff push.


19. Orlando Magic: Moe Harkless, St. John's

Harkless impressed at the combine with his shooting and athleticism.

With the Magic almost ready to start over, adding the high upside of Harkless is a good way to start.


20. Denver Nuggets: Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State

Moultrie’s decision to not workout at the combine was puzzling. Sullinger’s injury could make Moultrie a more attractive option for a lottery team, but he’s a good fit for Denver right now.

Denver doesn’t need much except depth and Moultrie can play the 4 or the 5. He also has the athleticism of a guard, so he will be able to get up and down the floor in George Karl’s up-tempo offense.


21. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure

Nicholson could be the steal of the draft and I love him here for Boston.

He’s a guy that can come in and contribute right away for a Celtics team that needs his size. Nicholson can rebound and block shots and is a 4 that can stretch the defense. He averaged 18.5 points per game, shot 57 percent from the floor and 43 percent from behind the arc. 


22. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Royce White, Iowa State    

White can also have an impact right away in Boston and could be the eventual replacement for Paul Pierce.

He can score (13.4 PPG) and rebound (9.3 RPG), but while he stands 6’9”, White sees the floor like a guard. He led his Iowa State team in assists as well (5.0 APG).


23. Atlanta Hawks: Tony Wroten, Washington 

Wroten needs some time to develop but could eventually be the floor general the Hawks haven’t been able to find since passing on Chris Paul in 2005.

He has size, athleticism, plenty of raw talent and can get to the basket. Before he makes an impact in the NBA, he has to find a jumper (16 percent from three-point range) and learn to take care of the basketball (3.8 turnovers per game).


24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Fab Melo, Syracuse

The Cavs could elect to go for a wing here, but they also need size. Taking a shot on Melo’s potential wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.

He measured 7’0” and while he’s raw offensively, he can contribute immediately as a shot-blocker (2.9 BPG).


25. Memphis Grizzlies: Doron Lamb, Kentucky

Memphis needs shooting. While the Grizzlies could elect to draft Evan Fournier here and stash him away for a year or two, this team is close to breaking through and need someone that can knock down shots now.

Lamb can be lethal from the perimeter—he knocked down 44 percent of his attempts on the season.


26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague, Kentucky

The Pacers could look at Teague as their point guard of the future here and ultimately could lead to them shopping Darren Collison.

He will need time to develop, but he was impressive in March as he really came on strong in helping lead Kentucky to the national championship. 


27. Miami Heat: Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt

Taylor would just be another great athlete in Miami.

He is an outstanding perimeter defender and has range on his jumper, knocking down 42 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.


28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green, Michigan State   

The Thunder just need depth here. While Green doesn’t do anything exceptionally well, he does a lot of things pretty well.

I have concerns of who he would guard in the NBA, but I have no doubts that Green could be productive.


29. Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt

You can never have too much shooting. Jenkins could be the best pure shooter in the draft, knocking down 44 percent of his long-range attempts on the season.

He has unlimited range, a lightning-quick release and could provide some secondary scoring in Chicago.


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. While Ezeli is raw offensively, he averaged 10.0 points per game and shoot 60 percent from the floor.

Ezeli is a big body that can help the Warriors rebound the ball (5.9 RPG) and block shots (2.0 BPG).


First Five Out

Quincy Miller, Baylor

Evan Fournier, France

Jared Cunningham, Oregon State

Will Barton, Memphis

Drew Gordon, New Mexico


Follow Matt Shetler on Twitter for news, reaction and analysis from around the NBA.



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