2012 NBA Mock Draft: Teams That Will Land This Year's Top Big Men
While guard play is certainly of the utmost importance in the NBA, quality big men are very hard to find and at a premium in the draft.
There appears to be several bigs with star potential in this year's class, and many teams will be posturing to get them. Anthony Davis will almost assuredly be taken first overall, but there are other forwards and centers that will be coveted as well.
There seems to be a severe lack of top-notch bigs in the NBA today, so teams that have them tend to be very successful. Teams picking near the top of the draft will surely look to copy that formula and turn things around by nabbing a post player who can take over games.
Along with a full, first-round mock draft, here is a breakdown of the organizations that will select the top big-man prospects in this year's class.
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, F (Kentucky)
It was pretty much decided that the second he declared for the draft whichever team won the lottery and received the No. 1 overall selection would take Kentucky forward Anthony Davis.
The versatile star was absolutely fantastic as a freshman, leading the Wildcats to a National Championship. Not only is Davis an excellent scorer who thrives in the paint and can step out to hit jumpers as well, he can also rebound and block shots with the best of them.
The New Orleans Hornets only had the fourth-best chance of nabbing the top spot, but they were lucky enough to get it.
There has been some speculation that the lottery was fixed, as the Hornets are under league control and being sold to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, but there is no way of knowing that for sure. Whatever the case, the Hornets organization and their fans are ecstatic to be getting a player of Davis' caliber.
After trading point guard Chris Paul last offseason, the Hornets were left without a true franchise player.
Davis will fill that void quite quickly, however, and he has a real chance to be an All-Star immediately. Teaming him with an outside sharpshooter like Eric Gordon will spell good things for the Hornets, and it could lead to a rather quick rebuilding process.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, F (Kansas)
Just when it looked like things could not be any worse for the Charlotte Bobcats, they somehow managed to not get the No. 1 pick despite their awful record this past season.
The Bobcats very well may have had one of the worst teams in NBA history, but they won't even receive the benefit of selecting Anthony Davis. With that said, though, it doesn't mean that all hope is lost.
It's certainly going to be a few years until the Bobcats are a factor, since their only players with any promise are Kemba Walker and D.J. Augustin, but they can make a lot of progress if they hit with the No. 2 pick.
There are a lot of options at that spot, but the best would have to be Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson. He may not be as promising of an all-around prospect as Davis, but Robinson is a powerful offensive player on the low block and a force when it comes to grabbing rebounds.
Davis had a lot of help at Kentucky, but Robinson was the unquestioned No. 1 guy at Kansas and had to deal with double- and triple-teams on a nightly basis.
He wasn't dominant every game and sometimes the extra defenders got to him, but Robinson always put in an honest effort and usually came up big. Robinson isn't as talented as Davis, but he can be Charlotte's main guy. He may even be Rookie of the Year if the Bobcats take him.
3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal, G (Florida)
After trading for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, the Wizards are pretty set in the frontcourt, so they figure to take Beal and pair him with John Wall to form a dynamic guard combo.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Harrison Barnes, F (North Carolina)
There has been talk for weeks that the Cavaliers love Barnes, and while I wouldn't gamble on an inconsistent freelancer this early, I expect the Cavs to do just that.
5. Sacramento Kings: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F (Kentucky)
Kidd-Gilchrist may very well be the second- or third-best player in the draft, but he will fall to No. 5 based on circumstance. The Kings will be the beneficiaries.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via Brooklyn): Andre Drummond, C (Connecticut)
There aren't a ton of capable true centers in this year's draft, so the ones who possess immense potential have garnered a lot of interest.
One of those players is Connecticut center Andre Drummond. The 6'10" behemoth joined UConn with a ton of hype surrounding him as a freshman, and while perhaps he didn't make the immediate impact that many had hoped, he had a solid season and showed plenty of promise.
Drummond averaged 10 points, 7.6 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game for the Huskies, and he has ideal size that NBA teams covet. The knock on Drummond is that he put up his best numbers against inferior competition, but that seems like editorializing more than anything.
There is no question Drummond probably would have benefited from another year in college, but with UConn being banned from the postseason and teams clearly interested, he had to make the jump.
The perfect fit for him would likely be the Portland Trail Blazers at No. 6.
Portland has a great interior scorer already in LaMarcus Aldridge, but they need somebody to play next to him. Drummond would be a good complement because there wouldn't be a lot of pressure to score right away and he could focus on his defensive game. If Drummond develops and lives up to his potential, then he and Aldridge can be one of the league's best interior tandems.
7. Golden State Warriors: Damian Lillard, G (Weber State)
The Warriors dealt Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut this past season, so they ought to take an offensively minded combo guard like Lillard to fill the void.
8. Toronto Raptors: Jeremy Lamb, G (Connecticut)
Toronto is a team that is very inconsistent on offense, but taking a swingman who can knock down shots off screens such as Lamb should really open things up.
9. Detroit Pistons: Perry Jones III, F (Baylor)
The Pistons have a couple promising players in Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight, but they could really use an athletic big like Jones to spread the floor.
10. New Orleans Hornets (via MIN): Kendall Marshall, G (North Carolina)
New Orleans already got a franchise-changing player in Davis, so now it will nab a pivotal supporting player in the form of Marshall, who is the draft's best pure point guard.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Austin Rivers, G (Duke)
The Blazers' brass has to be gutted that Marshall was taken a pick ahead of them, but they will go with a bit of a combo guard in Rivers and hope that he lives up to the hype.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Meyers Leonard, C (Illinois)
Milwaukee made a tough call trading Andrew Bogut this past season, but perhaps the Bucks can find his eventual replacement in the raw, but talented, Leonard.
13. Phoenix Suns: Dion Waiters, G (Syracuse)
Rumors persist that the Suns have made a deal with Waiters that they would take him if he is available, and I tend to believe it with Steve Nash likely leaving via free agency.
14. Houston Rockets: Tyler Zeller, F/C (North Carolina)
The Rockets have seemingly been on the hunt for a center every year since Yao Ming retired, but maybe selecting Zeller will give them stability at the position.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: John Henson, F (North Carolina)
Philadelphia shouldn't re-sign the old and broken-down Elton Brand, and if they don't, then the Sixers would be smart to take a big, versatile forward like Henson.
16. Houston Rockets (via New York): Terrence Jones, F (Kentucky)
Houston has a pretty solid starting lineup, but taking Jones would be a great move since he can serve as a solid backup at both forward positions with great rebounding ability.
Which big man will have the best NBA career?
17. Dallas Mavericks: Arnett Moultrie, F (Mississippi State)
The Mavs need somebody who can play next to Dirk Nowitzki, and while Moultrie isn't a true center, he is a rugged and physical player who will complement Dirk well.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah): Terrence Ross, G (Washington)
Minnesota desperately needs some perimeter scoring to go along with the beastly play of Kevin Love inside, and Ross would be the perfect pick for the T'Wolves at this point.
19. Orlando Magic: Doron Lamb, G (Kentucky)
It's hard to say what the Magic will do, as much of it depends on the Dwight Howard situation, but with or without Superman, the Magic need an outside scoring threat like Lamb.
20. Denver Nuggets: Moe Harkless, F, (St. John's)
Denver can do pretty much whatever they wants, since they have depth at every position, so I expect the Nuggets to go with Harkless because of his athleticism and positional versatility.
21. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, F (St. Bonaventure)
There seems to be a good chance that Kevin Garnett will be going elsewhere in free agency, but Nicholson has a similar skill set and would make for a nice developmental option.
22. Boston Celtics (via L.A. Clippers): Fab Melo, C (Syracuse)
The Celtics have needed a true center since trading Kendrick Perkins, and although Melo is a risky pick with little offensive development, he could become dominant defensively.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Royce White, F (Iowa State)
Atlanta isn't going to get a player of Josh Smith's ability here, but perhaps White can become a poor man's Smith if the long-time Hawk is traded or leaves next offseason.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via L.A. Lakers): Jared Sullinger, F/C (Ohio State)
Sullinger has reportedly been red flagged due to back issues, but he is too much of a value pick for the Cavaliers to pass him up at No. 24 after taking Harrison Barnes earlier.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Wroten, G (Washington)
The Grizzlies' offense is a little too deliberate and could use some explosion from the backcourt, and there is no doubt that Wroten would provide that.
26. Indiana Pacers: Festus Ezeli, C (Vanderbilt)
Indiana may be the deepest team in the NBA, but they could use a little support behind center Roy Hibbert. Ezeli is just the guy to do it.
27. Miami Heat: Draymond Green, F (Michigan State)
The Heat really have all they need with the Big Three, but taking a high-character guy with a rare skill set like Green will only be helpful to them.
Who is the first round's best sleeper big man?
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Jones, F (West Virginia)
Miami proved that the Thunder weren't quite ready for the big time in the NBA Finals, but taking a forward with some offensive skill such as Jones should be helpful.
29. Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins, G (Vanderbilt)
Whenever Derrick Rose returns to action, he will need an offensively gifted shooting guard to complement him, and that is precisely what Jenkins is.
30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio): Jeffery Taylor, F, Vanderbilt
The Warriors took the guard that they desperately needed earlier in the first round, and they will now turn to Taylor as a developmental wing prospect with high upside.
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