Now that the Miami Heat have captured the 2012 NBA championship, all focus is quickly turning to the NBA draft, which sits less than a week away.
In my latest mock draft, I take a look at who’s moving up and down the board now that the season is over.
Let’s get right to it, as the New Orleans Hornets are now on the clock.
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Davis is a game-changer. Now that the Hornets have freed up minutes by trading Emeka Okafor, it frees up minutes for Davis to make more of an impact as a rookie.
He’s a no-brainer at No. 1 and will be the first step in restoring the Hornets to playoff contenders in the future.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
The Bobcats should deal this pick, but if they don’t, Robinson is probably the best bet.
He’s athletic and physical and is NBA-ready right now. He has 27 double-doubles on the year at Kansas and could be a realistic Rookie of the Year candidate.
3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal, Florida
Beal is almost a no-brainer now in Washington if he’s still on the board. The Wizards need shooting badly, and Beal will solve most of their woes.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
The Cavs love Harrison Barnes, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them take the North Carolina product here. But with MKG still on the board, it may be hard to pass on him here.
Kidd-Gilchrist probably doesn’t add the scoring the Cavs are in search of, but he’s the perimeter defender the Cavs need. He has a motor that never stops running and can guard multiple positions. He’s athletic enough that the scoring should come within time.
5. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, Connecticut
The length of the Kings frontline with Drummond and DeMarcus Cousins would be outstanding. While Drummond is a question mark, he has more upside than anyone left on the board right now.
He's a need pick for Sacramento, as they can add his athleticism, shot-blocking (2.9 BPG) and rebounding skills (7.6 RPG) to help fix a very poor defense that allowed an NBA-worst 104.4 points per game a season in 2012.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey Nets): Damian Lillard, Weber State
I love Lillard for the Blazers, as they desperately need a quality point guard.
He adds the dynamic backcourt scorer (24.5 PPG) that the Blazers need and can shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor.
7. Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Golden State needs a productive small forward, and Barnes, who averaged 17.1 points per game on the season, is a gift here for Mark Jackson’s Warriors.
A starting five that could potentially feature Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Barnes, David Lee and Andrew Bogut could have Golden State contending for a playoff spot.
8. Toronto Raptors: Dion Waiters, Syracuse
Toronto can add some much-needed toughness with Waiters.
He adds the ability to get to the rim from the guard position, which is something the Raptors need badly. Waiters, in addition to last year’s first-round selection Jonas Valanciunas, will make Toronto a much tougher team in the East.
They will still have a hole to fill at the 3, but adding the talent and upside of Waiters will pay off down the road.
9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson, North Carolina
Detroit needs to add an athletic big man to pair with Greg Monroe with this pick, and Henson is as good as an athlete as anyone on the board.
He can rebound (10.1 RPG) and block shots (2.9 BPG), which are qualities the Pistons need badly.
10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Austin Rivers, Duke
Adding Davis and Rivers will make this a very good draft for New Orleans.
The Hornets can go multiple ways with this pick, but Rivers also provides them with insurance in case restricted free agent Eric Gordon leaves. He brings perimeter scoring, long-range shooting and potential star power—all things the Hornets need badly.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Meyers Leonard, Illinois
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.
Leonard had an outstanding combine. His stock is way up and could fill the need in the middle for the Blazers. Paired with LaMarcus Aldridge, this could turn into a very nice frontcourt down the road.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
The Bucks need a post presence and Moultrie has a ton of upside.
He averaged 16.4 points and 10.5 rebounds on the season and is a big who 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.
13. Phoenix Suns: Perry Jones III, Baylor
He has all the tools in the world, but is in between positions in the NBA.
He averaged 13.5 points and 7.6 rebounds on the season, which is way below what his skill set would suggest. If he could ever bring his talents out on a consistent basis, Jones could be a star.
On talent alone, he's worth the risk here for the Suns. Hopefully they can get the production out of him.
14. Houston Rockets: Terrence Ross, Washington
Ross 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.
He 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.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
Philadelphia needs a go-to guy. Lamb could be exactly that, as he averaged 17.7 points per game while at UConn.
He can extend his game beyond the arc, but has a devastating mid-range game. Lamb has the potential to be a No. 1 scoring option in the league.
Lamb 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
Zeller is 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. He’s athletic, can run the floor well and has very good leaping skills.
Zeller got better every year while in a Tar Heels uniform. While he may not average the 16.3 points and 9.6 rebounds he did during his senior season, he will be productive.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Marshall is an outstanding decision-maker, averaging 9.8 assists per game and posting a 3.48 assist-to-turnover ratio. Down the road, he could bring some of the things to the Mavericks that Jason Kidd did.
He’s the best pure floor general in the draft, and he makes passing the rock look much easier than it really is. Marshall is the type of player who makes everyone around him better, which is a rare quality these days.
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.
He can guard either forward spot and add depth to an improving Minnesota team.
19. Orlando Magic: Moe Harkless, St. John's
Harkless had an impressive combine, coming off a freshman season at St. John’s in which he averaged 15.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
With the Magic almost ready to start over, adding the high upside of Harkless is a good way to start. He has a very bright future ahead of him.
20. Denver Nuggets: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
Nicholson has the ability to stretch the floor, averaging 18.5 points per game, shot 57 percent from the floor and 43 percent from behind the arc.
In addition, he grabbed 8.4 rebounds and blocked 2.0 shots per game.
There’s not much Nicholson doesn’t do well. I love him here for the Nuggets, as he adds depth to the Denver frontcourt and is athletic enough to fit into George Karl’s up-tempo system
21. Boston Celtics: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
I wasn’t high on Sullinger anyway, but a medical red flag will cause him to slip in the draft. Eventually, though, the reward will outweigh the risk.
The Celtics need a banger, and that's something Sullinger can do. He averaged 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds on the season. While I don’t think he will approach those numbers in the NBA, I do like his post game, and he adds some quality depth to the Celtics frontcourt.
22. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Fab Melo, Syracuse
Melo measured 7’0”. 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.
Size is something the Celtics need, and Melo fills a huge need in Boston.
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, he will get a few dunks and put-backs. His post game has a long way to go before it is NBA-ready, but he has a ton of upside.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Royce White, Iowa State
White is a guy who 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 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 productive small forward that the Hawks need.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Doron Lamb, Kentucky
Lamb only stand's 6'4", which is a concern, but his quick release makes up for that.
The Cavs 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.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Wroten, Washington
Memphis needs some shooting, but with the top ones off the board already, taking a gamble on the huge upside of Wroten could pay off down the road.
He will take some time to develop as a point guard and can’t shoot the ball, but he’s athletic and can get to the rim. Wroten has the raw ability to be the best guard in this draft, but it will take some time.
26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague, Kentucky
Had he stayed in school, Teague would likely be a top-10 pick next season. So the talent is there.
Teague will also need time to develop, but he showed the type of talents he has during the NCAA tournament.
The Pacers could look at Teague as their point guard of the future here, which ultimately could lead to them shopping Darren Collison.
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 for the NBA champions.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green, Michigan State
Green does a little bit of everything, and he does it all very well. He makes his teammates better and will be a good asset coming off the bench in Oklahoma City, who are just really drafting for depth here.
The Thunder probably could have used a guy of Green’s talents in the NBA Finals.
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.
In addition, he could eventually turn into the replacement for Richard Hamilton.
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 shot 60 percent from the floor.
Ezeli is a big body who can help the Warriors rebound the ball (5.9 RPG) and block shots (2.0BPG).
First Five Out
Quincy Miller, Baylor
Evan Fournier, France
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State
Will Barton, Memphis
Drew Gordon, New Mexico
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