As with any draft, marginal prospects can make or break a team’s draft, and while the 2012 NBA draft is considered a deep one, there will still be a few weaker prospects that ultimately will be taken in the first round.
Certain teams fall in love with certain players, and sometimes it just doesn’t end up being the right guy to take.
In my latest mock draft, I take a look at some of the weaker prospects that teams will roll the dice on.
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
The Hornets can strike gold in this draft, assuming they keep both of their top-10 picks. If they don't, simply landing Davis, who is an immediate game-changer, makes this a great draft for New Orleans.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
I like Robinson at No. 2, but Charlotte would be smart to trade down. Of course, the word smart can't be used to describe anything the Bobcats front office does.
If the Bobcats stay here, they at least get an NBA-ready prospect in Robinson, who had 27 double-doubles on the year at Kansas.
3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal, Florida
With the trade that brought them Trevor Ariza and Emaka Okafor, the Wizards likely don't need to draft Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, as they just added a pair of solid defensive players.
Instead, they go for the shooter in Beal, as a John Wall-Beal backcourt seems pretty promising.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
It's no secret that they've liked Harrison Barnes now for over a year now. This pick comes down to Barnes or Kidd-Gilchrist, and adding Barnes' scoring potential makes a lot of sense for the Cavs.
He's a guy who averaged 17.1 points on the season at North Carolina and gives the rebuilding Cavs another weapon.
5. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, Connecticut
Drummond is a question mark but has more upside than anyone left on the board right now.
He's a need pick for Sacramento, as it can add his athleticism, shot-blocking (2.9 BPG) and rebounding skills (7.6 RPG) to help fix a very poor defense.
The length of the Kings front line with Drummond and DeMarcus Cousins would be outstanding.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey Nets): Damian Lillard, Weber State
The Blazers need a point guard, and I love Lillard here for them.
He adds the dynamic backcourt scorer (24.5 PPG) that the Blazers need and brings a sense of toughness to the team.
7. Golden State Warriors: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
MKG makes the slide down to No. 7 and is a gift here for Golden State.
I think teams will sour on his perimeter shooting (25 percent), and as a result, he could surprisingly slip a few spots.
That's great for Mark Jackson, who is trying to make the Warriors a better defensive team. Kidd-Gilchrist's rebounding and defensive abilities will be a welcome addition.
8. Toronto Raptors: Dion Waiters, Syracuse
Toronto is a team that could trade out of this spot, but with Waiters' stock rising in the fashion that it is, it's hard to see him sliding past this spot.
He adds the ability to get to the rim from the guard position, which is something the Raptors need badly, as right now, there is nothing but jump shooters on their roster.
9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson, North Carolina
Henson can rebound (10.1 RPG) and block shots (2.9 BPG), which are qualities the Pistons need in a frontcourt guy to pair with Greg Monroe.
He also will make Detroit much more athletic, which is a must with this pick.
10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Austin Rivers, Duke
The Hornets can go multiple ways with this pick, but Rivers also provides them with insurance in case restricted free agent Eric Gordon leaves.
In addition, Rivers provides the Hornets with perimeter scoring, long-range shooting and potential star power, all things the Hornets need badly.
Adding Davis and Rivers will make this a very good draft for New Orleans.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Meyers Leonard, Illinois
Leonard had an outstanding combine, and his stock is way up and could fill the need in the middle for the Blazers.
He won't be a star right away, but he has a ton of overall talent. With Leonard, Portland gets size, athletic ability and a ton of upside.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
Moultrie's the most intriguing prospect in the draft to me.
Sometimes I'm very high on him, especially looking at his athletic ability. And sometimes I'm not, like when he decided not to work out at the combine.
But he's a guy that averaged 16.4 points and 10.5 rebounds on the season and is a big that can stretch the floor. He not only shot 54.9 percent from the floor on the season, but also 44.4 percent from behind the arc.
He's big and strong enough to play the 4 or the 5, but athletic enough to run the floor like a guard.
Milwaukee needs a player like Moultrie in the post, but I just don't know if his abilities will translate to a consistent NBA player.
He struggled at UTEP for two years before exploding this season at Mississippi State. Moultrie has the ability, but I haven't seen enough out of him to think this is anything more than a roll of the dice.
13. Phoenix Suns: Perry Jones III, Baylor
He has all the tools in the world. Jones runs like a deer and can jump out of the gym, but consistency is still an issue.
Jones was a 4 in college but is likely a 3 in the NBA, and while he wowed scouts at the combine, he hasn't been able to put together consistent individual workouts since.
He averaged 13.5 points and 7.6 rebounds on the season, which is way below what his skill set would suggest.
On talent alone, he's worth the risk here for the Suns, but he's becoming a scarier prospect by the day.
14. Houston Rockets: Terrence Ross, Washington
Ross has great size for a 2-guard at 6’6” and can do anything on the floor very well. The Rockets need backcourt depth, and they get a real good player here.
He can score from the inside or outside, averaging 16.4 points while shooting 37 percent from behind the arc. In addition, he can defend, handles the ball well and is one of the best rebounding guards in the draft, pulling down 6.4 boards per night.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
Lamb is young, but he has a ton of upside and could be a steal at No. 15 for the Sixers.
They need a go-to guy, and Lamb could be exactly that, 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.
16. Houston Rockets (via New York Knicks): Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
Zeller is athletic, can run the floor well and has very good leaping skills.
He's 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. Houston also needs a productive big man, and while he won't become an All-Star, I do see Zeller being a productive NBA big.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Marshall is the best pure floor general in the draft and makes passing the rock look much easier than it really is.
He's an outstanding decision-maker, averaging 9.8 assists per game and posting a 3.48 assist-to-turnover ratio, and down the road could bring some of the things to the Mavericks that Jason Kidd did.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah Jazz): Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Minnesota might not get a shooter here, so taking the best available player isn't the worst strategy.
Jones is very athletic, strong and is a good finisher and rebounder in traffic. He's also a guy that can score at all three levels, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 33 percent from behind the arc.
19. Orlando Magic: Moe Harkless, St. John's
With the Magic almost ready to start over, adding the high upside of Harkless is a good way to start. He impressed at the combine with his shooting and athleticism and has a very bright future ahead of him.
20. Denver Nuggets: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Despite averaging 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds on the season, there were plenty of question marks surrounding Sullinger.
A medical red flag will cause him to slip in the draft, but eventually, the reward will outweigh the risk. The Nuggets need a banger, and that's something Sullinger can do. The one thing I like about his game is that his post game is more advanced than most prospects.
Yet while he's strong and physical, Sullinger isn't very athletic and could struggle against longer and quicker NBA defenders.
Without that athleticism, standing only 6'9" could be an issue for the Ohio State product.
I have doubts if Sullinger will ever be a star in the NBA, instead being nothing more than an adequate NBA power forward.
Think Corliss Williamson.
21. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
I still love Nicholson here for the Celtics, but he's also a guy that I can see rise up the board before draft day.
Nicholson has the ability to stretch the floor, averaging 18.5 points per game, and shot 57 percent from the floor and 43 percent from behind the arc.
There's not much on the floor that he doesn't do well and could contribute immediately for Boston.
22. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Royce White, Iowa State
White is another guy that I think can come in and be a surprise from day one.
He can score (13.4 PPG) and rebound (9.3 RPG), but while he stands at 6’9”, White sees the floor like a guard. His 5.0 assists per game actually ranked him fifth in the Big 12 Conference.
Down the road, White could be the eventual replacement for Paul Pierce.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Tony Wroten, Washington
I love Wroten's raw ability and he could turn into one of the best guards in the draft before long, but there is so much about his game that's broken right now.
He can't shoot the ball at all, averaging only 16 percent from behind the arc, and often ends up taking poor shots.
Wroten also takes poor care of the ball and doesn't use his teammates enough. He averaged 3.8 turnovers to only 3.7 assists on the year.
He's got a ton of work to do before he's NBA ready, but the talent is there to make himself a good player. How long will it take, though?
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Fab Melo, Syracuse
Melo measured 7’0”, and while he’s raw offensively, he can contribute immediately as a shot-blocker (2.9 BPG) and has the size to be a good rebounder.
But he has nothing that resembles a post game and has a very low basketball IQ. He won't score with his back to the basket, instead getting a few dunks and put-backs.
Since the Cavs are in need of size, he's worth a roll of the dice this late.
Melo has potential but has a long way to go before he makes himself a quality NBA big man.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Doron Lamb, Kentucky
Lamb only stands at 6'4", which is a concern, but his quick release makes up for that.
The Grizzlies need a shooter badly after shooting only 32.6 percent as a team from behind the arc. When Lamb is shooting well, he can be lethal, connecting on 44 percent of his long-range attempts on the season.
26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague, Kentucky
Teague 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.
The Pacers could look at Teague as their point guard of the future here, and it ultimately could lead to them shopping Darren Collison.
Had he stayed in school, Teague would likely be a top-10 pick next season, so the talent is there.
27. Miami Heat: Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt
Taylor is an outstanding perimeter defender and has range on his jumper, knocking down 42 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.
He's a safe pick and just another elite athlete in Miami.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green, Michigan State
Green does a little bit of everything and does it all very well. He makes his teammates better and will be a good asset coming off the bench in Oklahoma City, who is just really drafting for depth here.
Come to think of it, the Thunder could likely use him right now.
29. Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
Jenkins has unlimited range, a lightning-quick release and could provide some secondary scoring in Chicago.
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 will add some scoring in Chicago and could eventually turn into the replacement for Richard Hamilton.
30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio Spurs): Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
Ezeli is a big body that can help the Warriors rebound the ball (5.9 RPG) and block shots (2.0BPG).
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 shot 60 percent from the floor.
First Five Out
Quincy Miller, Baylor
Evan Fournier, France
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State
Will Barton, Memphis
Drew Gordon, New Mexico
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