2012 NBA Mock Draft: Picks to Fill Teams' Biggest Needs
At this time of year, we see dozens of mock drafts trying to predict where each draft prospect ends up. Players move up and down in the draft based on their workouts, meetings with teams and predicted potential.
I got a chance to sit down with Colin Kennedy of Metta Chronicles and we decided to "mock the NBA draft." Sort of. We thought that a mock of selecting players that fill a team’s biggest need would be more interesting than what we think will actually happen. Be warned, in real life if David Kahn had a first-round pick, he’d probably try to take PG Kendal Marshall.
New Orleans Hornets: C Anthony Davis, Kentucky
As if there was even a second choice. New Orleans needs a new identity and a complete makeover. They only have a few pieces to keep.
Davis will enter the league as one of the best defensive rookie prospects ever. After originally being a guard in high school, his game has blossomed in pure coordination with his height, as he has the range of Kevin Garnett at his prime.
This would should be interesting to watch.
Charlotte Bobcats: G Bradley Beal, Florida
Originally, I went with Thomas Robinson at this pick, but if we’re going based off need, Charlotte has to take Bradley Beal at No. 2.
He would be the perfect teammate for Kemba Walke; both would be effective in the open court and Beal’s outside shooting will space the floor for Kemba.
Beal’s perimeter shooting is a rare commodity. He’ll be a top SG in the league within a few years.
Washington Wizards: SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
The lineup of Wall, Crawford, Gilchrist, Vesley and Nene will run all over the East—too bad they won’t play defense. Gilchrist will likely go at No. 2, but he’s the perfect fit for Washington, as they really need a three and probably aren’t too confident that Vesley can play that position.
Cleveland Cavaliers: PF Thomas Robinson, Kansas
The Cavs will be very fortunate if Robinson falls to their pick at No. 4.
Although the Cavs already have some "high-motor" bigs in Varejao and Tristan Thompson, Robinson would be another strong rebounder and, more importantly, an offensive presence down low. Kyrie didn’t really have anyone to throw the ball down to last season, and adding someone who can score facing up and back-to-the-basket will be helpful as the team continues to grow with their young talent.
Sacramento Kings: SF/PF Perry Jones, Baylor
It’s a shame that Robinson probably won't make it to No. 5; he’d be a great fit next to Boogie Cousins.
He’s probably a reach at this point, but the Kings really need a solid PF since Jason Thompson never became the All-Star many thought he would be. I don’t like Andre Drummond’s versatility—it’s important to not have two post guys on offense. Whoever plays next to Cousins must be able to hit a jumper.
Portland Blazers: C Andre Drummond, UCONN
Does Portland take another chance on a big man, even after their history of failed big men? I say yes.
Like pick No. 5, it’s a gamble but it’s too tough to pass on Drummond’s package (physical and skill). He’ll be a work-in-progress, but if they can motivate him and get him to focus, he’s the perfect fit next to PF LeMarcus Aldridge.
Golden State Warriors: SF Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Barnes slides in perfectly with the Warriors, as he instantly becomes their starting SF. Don’t sleep on the Warriors next season; if they remain healthy, they will be able to start two lights-out shooters and two high-energy bigs, and if they add Barnes they will add a legit second or third scorer to their mix.
Toronto Raptors: SG Jeremy Lamb, UCONN
I love this pick for Toronto. They need someone who can fill up the stat sheet, especially on the scoring side. With guys like Bargs and DeRozan already on the squad, Lamb won’t have any pressure to be the main option immediately.
The coaching staff will have some nice offense/attacking on the wings with Lamb and DeRozan. His outside shooting will clear the floor more for DeRozan to attack the basket, and he’s got some nice handles too.
Detroit Pistons: PF/C John Henson, North Carolina
Henderson would be a perfect match next to stud young center Greg Monroe. He’s a high energy rebounder/shot-blocker who shouldn’t look to take more than seven shots a game.
He should also perfectly develop next to the aforementioned Monroe, as well as young PG Brandon Knight. If he develops, the Pistons could be scary in just a few seasons.
New Orleans Hornets: PG Damian Lillard, Weber State
His stock has been rising in the pre-draft workouts, but if NOLA can get him at No. 10, it’s absolutely the greatest situation for Coach Monty Williams.
They’ll have Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon and now Lillard to run the point. Lillard can score, and I mean score. He's a big-time shooter who has a high basketball IQ, too.
Put Jarrett Jack at the backup, and the Hornets are suddenly looking at a very bright future.
Portland Trailblazers: SG Austin Rivers, Duke
He’s been a popular Trailblazer pick in mocks, and justifiably. He’s a good fit for the squad.
However, he’ll be hit-or-miss; his attitude will either make him a superstar or will get him out of the NBA within five years. He’s brash, cocky and somewhat arrogant, but can back it up with his shooting and drive ability.
With Drummond now in the fold, the Blazers continue to add to their young core of Aldridge, Batum, Matthews and Nolan Smith.
Milwaukee Bucks: C Meyers Leonard, Illinois
This “mock” draft is about need, right? Milwaukee’s backcourt is set with studs like Jennings and Monta, and they desperately need some type of presence in the paint. I mean, come on, they had guys like Ilyasova and Drew Gooden playing the five at times last year.
Coach Skiles got as much out of that as he could, but someone needs to fill the role Bogut once had. And no, not by being injured half the time.
With Leonard, they get a 7’0" athlete who can play the C position in the NBA. He’ll provide the length they need, and some scoring down low to lessen the pressure on BJ and Monta.
Phoenix Suns: PG Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Just to shine light on this stat, more Tarheels have gone than former Wildcats at this point in the lottery.
This pick will come down to a few things: will Phoenix lose Steve Nash in FA? Will they bring back PG Aaron Brooks from China? Maybe a SG, as Shannon Brown failed to impress.
Ultimately, I think that regardless of whether they keep Nash or not, they need to invest in his replacement. I doubt Brooks will come back to the Suns, and that’s only if they lose Nash and desperately need competition. Marshall is a quick, pass-first point that teammates will love to play with.
Houston Rockets: Tyler Zeller, PF/C, North Carolina
I don’t think Zeller is worthy of the No. 14 pick, but he fills a need for the Rockets. He runs the court as well as any big man in the draft, and he can score down low.
The Rockets only have the aging Scola in the paint, so adding someone like Zeller will help them out immediately. Maybe McHale can work with Zeller and teach him some moves.
Philadelphia 76ers: PF Terrence Jones, Kentucky
The 76ers have to add more size to their frontcourt, as Elton Brand has significantly slowed since signing with the team, and it’s not known if Spencer Hawes will return to the team next season as he’s a RFA.
Jones was overshadowed while playing under Coach Cal, but he can be an instant contributor for Doug Collins and co. Keep an eye out for a scoring guard, as Lou Williams just opted out of his contract and Philly might be forced to replace their team’s leading scorer for 2012-13.
Houston Rockets: SF Moe Harkless, St. John’s
Long, athletic and even some basketball IQ at the three spot. His shot needs to improve, but it’s not bad either.
Houston has plenty of wings, but no one has really stood out. With Kevin Martin probably traded some point soon and Budinger not getting much playing time, there’s room for Harkless.
At his recent draft workout, he was compared to guys like Rudy Gay and Trevor Ariza. He’s supposedly a lot more mature than his peers, and that seems to be the toughest thing to teach these days.
Houston got some size/rebounding at No. 14. Now they get tougher with this pick at No. 16. Houston usually plays it safe with their draft picks, and as a result, they don’t get a player with crazy upside. It’s time to change that.
Dallas Mavericks: PF/C Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
The loss of Tyson Chandler really hurt the Mavs this past season, as they were unable to defend their 2011 title. Although Sullinger is an offensive-minded center, as opposed to the now-Defensive Player of the Year Chandler, the Mavs need to add more size to allow Dirk to primarily stay outside and hit those famous fade-aways.
Sullinger's draft stock has been all over the place, as he recently bombed his workout at the combine, but he was also invited to an individual workout for the Warriors. Maybe it’s just a smoke screen by Golden State, but he could still easily be gone by the early teens.
I personally think he would be a great fit next to Anthony Davis in New Orleans, where his post presence would allow Davis to get open for jumpers.
With that stated, I think the Mavs will most likely trade this pick to allow for more cap space. Then they can make a run at Deron Williams this summer, and go after Dwight next.
Minnesota Timberwolves: SG/SF, Terrence Ross, Washington
This might have been the easiest pick I’ve made so far. They need some shooting on the outside to help little Ricky and Kevin Love; Ross does just that.
He's 6’7", athletic and has a sweet stroke. They’ll get rid of Beasley soon enough, and Wesley Johnson hasn’t worked out yet. Ross fits perfectly with the team’s two stars, and, most importantly, gives them an extra scoring punch they’ve been lacking.
He's a great off-ball player too, which helps in Adelman’s offense. If you weren’t watching the T-Wolves this past season, Ross will add a dimension that will lead to even more top 10 plays of the night.
Orlando Magic: PF Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
Moultrie may be the best prospect available at this point, and would certainly give Orlando versatility, as he’s an athletic big who has both inside and outside game.
While Orlando could go after another guard to replace the pending departure of Jameer Nelson, the front office has to appease Dwight with every possibility they have. By drafting the best player, they’ll look to increase their win total in 2013.
Whoever coaches Orlando next year should force Moultrie to stay on the post, as he tends to drift out to the perimeter too much. That role is reserved for Ryan Anderson.
Denver Nuggets: PG Marquis Teague, Kentucky
Well, I was about to pick Moultrie until Colin took him for Orlando. Denver might be the deepest team in our league, and they aren’t in desperate need of any position.
However, they could use a backup PG, someone who might even compete for the starting spot at some point. Enter Marquis Teague. Andre Miller is a free agent, so his future with the team is up in the air. Even if he comes back, Teague brings Lawson-like speed off the bench, and he’s more of a passer than scorer.
That’s not to say Teague can’t score, and score often, but I think he’ll use his speed to get his teammates open looks, and he’s got a tough mentality that George Karl will like. If Miller does come back, use him selectively since he’s old anyway.
Boston Celtics: PF Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
While the Celtics just drafted JaJuan Johnson last year, (technically they drafted MarShon Brooks and traded him for Johnson), they should continue to take similarly sized prospects, as they need to hit on a replacement for Kevin Garnett.
Nicholson may be one of the best shooters in this draft, thus making him one of the elite big man shooters. Hopefully KG will influence him in rebounding, the biggest area of concern for Nicholson. Although he’s not a bad rebounder, he needs to be more consistent in grabbing boards.
Boston Celtics: G Tony Wroten Jr, Washington
The C’s need to add as much depth to their bench as possible. Ray Allen will likely depart this summer, leaving Avery Bradley as our starting SG. While I like Bradley, there will be a giant hole left for backup guard.
Wroten is probably the best guard prospect available, and I like his versatility. While he’s 6’6", he primarily played PG for the Huskies. Either way, the C’s need to add youth and Wroten seems like a safe pick at this point.
Atlanta Hawks: C Fab Melo, Syracuse
The Hawks need a big man, and Melo is just that. He has limited offensive game, but does the job on defense in addition to his strength at rebounding. Honestly, anyone is better than Zaza, and Melo actually has some potential.
They’ve had some issues with size in the past, Horford being an undersized C, and Atlanta has had horrendous rebounding in the last few playoffs.
The only issue for me here is that I don’t think the coaching staff in ATL will be able to develop Melo as well as some other personnel around the league. 7’0", 250 lbs., traditional center stuff—ATL needs that badly.
Cleveland Cavaliers: SF Quincy Miller, Baylor
The Cavs are in full rebuilding mode, and if they can trot out a starting lineup consisting of Irving, Miller, Robinson and Thompson, they will grow up fast. The Cavs would make tons of mistakes early, but I think the hard-nosed coaching of Byron Scott will keep them on the right path for Dan Gilbert.
Miller looked like a potential Top 10 pick before the NCAA season began, but was out-shadowed by teammates while his flaws were exposed. He needs to improve his strength and work on his shot, but he has the chance to really grow with the rest of the young Cavs.
I’m not saying he’ll be the next Durant by any means, but maybe he can be a similar style player to KD—an oversized, skinny SF.
Memphis Grizzlies: PF Royce White, Iowa State
This dude is special, a 6’8" point forward-type player who can do a whole lot of things for the Grizzlies off the bench.
He can handle/distribute the ball, play down low and run the wing—a complete package. His presence just makes everyone better, and Memphis needs someone to take charge off the bench. They’ve got a bunch of role players, but no one to really get the ball to them once Conley goes off the court.
I might have gone with Teague if he was still on the board.
Indiana Pacers: SF Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt
The Pacers have no one behind Danny Granger (Dahntay Jones?), who was exposed in their second-round defeat to the Heat as a bad crunch-time player. I think the basketball community over-valued Granger based off his scoring averages on those bad Pacers teams, but now that he’s surrounded by talent he’s shown that he was a high volume shooter.
Enter Taylor, known for being a hard worker and great teammate during his four seasons at Vandy. Taylor is a great defender with elite athleticism, but he wouldn’t be relied on to score, at least not right away. This would allow him to improve on his jump shot and his ball-handling as he continues to grow with the rest of the young Pacers.
Miami Heat: C Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
Miami needs a big man, and Ezeli provides a a strong body and some length down low. He doesn’t have much offensive upside, but Miami doesn’t need that with LeBron, Wade and Bosh.
Ezeli is an impressive shot-blocker, and will defend the paint extremely well for a team who has, in my opinion, the best perimeter defensive players in the league. I’ve heard some people compare Ezeli to Kendrick Perkins, and I have no issue with that. Both are good one-on-one defenders in the post, and both have very, very little offensive game.
He’ll be more consistent than guys like Joel Anthony or Turiaf; Miami will get an instant upgrade down low with Ezeli.
Oklahoma City Thunder: SG Evan Fournier, France
At this point, the Thunder probably wouldn’t be too impressed with any of the big men available. Why not draft an international player, let him play in Europe for a few more seasons, then bring him in when he’s at his peak instead of having him develop in the NBA and waste your cap space?
Who knows, he might be the replacement for Harden in 2013-14 when Harden eventually leaves.
Chicago Bulls: G Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas
The Bulls need to take someone for their backcourt at this pick with Rose being out for the season and CJ Watson being average at best.
Taylor can shoot, defend well and handles the rock well enough to get others open. He comes from a tough Kansas program, so he’ll mesh well with a guy like Thibs on the sideline. At 6’4", he can D up both ones and twos, which will come in handy since there aren't too many options for Chicago in their backcourt.
Taylor has a nice first step, nice floater and a decent mid-range game. He’ll use his speed to find a gap, and has the ability to make the right pass at that point to get a teammate an easy bucket.
Golden State Warriors: C Kyle O’Quinn, Northfolk State
The Warriors should look into adding size, as they have little depth behind starters David Lee and Andrew Bogut. O'Quinn would provide something Lee can’t: defense. O’Quinn is known for being a great shot-blocker with strong rebounding ability.
However, his motor is a question, so I would suggest he improves on his conditioning. With the injury concerns for Steph Curry, Golden State could look at a PG or potentially a combo guard to add more depth for Mark Jackson to play with.
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