2012 NBA Mock Draft: Highlighting Round 1's Most Important Picks

Justin Welton@JustinWeltonAnalyst IIJune 25, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 25:  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 of the Kentucky Wildcats clelebrates a three-pointer against the Baylor Bears in the first half during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Final at the Georgia Dome on March 25, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Missing on NBA draft prospects happens more often than not. If you look at the past 20 NBA drafts, you will see multiple teams miss on NBA All-Stars and future Hall of Famers. 

Drafting well is an art. Only the best in the business are able to draft well while the others are still searching for answers on how to do it the right way.

The 2012 NBA draft has talent littered throughout the class, but there will be prospects teams pass on. Let's take a look at some of the most important picks of this draft.

Note: You can find those selections with (*) beside their school.


1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky

Anthony Davis will be a dynamite player in the NBA, and he'll be a major contributor in his first year. We haven't seen a big man like Davis in a long time. 

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 02:  Anthony Davis #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates before he cuts down the net after the Wildcats defeat the Kansas Jayhawks 67-59 in the National Championship Game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Not only can he block and alter shots with his length, but he is a rebound machine, can handle the rock and he has an underrated offensive game.

Davis will be a star in the NBA.  


2. Charlotte Bobcats: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky *

Pick No. 2 to Charlotte is going to be one of the most important picks in the first round. 

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has everything I love to see from a prospect. He has the skills, talent, size, athleticism and intangibles that make him a leader. Kidd-Gilchrist has it all.  

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 25:  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates their 82 to 70 win over the Baylor Bears during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Final at the Georgia Dome on March 25, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kidd-Gil
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If I'm going to war on the basketball floor, I want Kidd-Gilchrist in my foxhole. 


3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal, SG, Florida

Bradley Beal is just slightly overrated. He's a fantastic player, but his 6'3" size is something that deserves to be talked about in a negative light. 

GAINESVILLE, FL -  NOVEMBER 11:  Guard Bradley Beal #23 of the Florida Gators listens to coach Billy Donovan during play against the Jackson State Tigers November 11, 2011 at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messersch
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

He's not a point guard, so he's undersized at the 2-guard position. Will he be able to find success in the NBA? I think he will do fine, but just not No. 3 overall fine. 


4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina *

This pick will be crucial for the Cavaliers who have two picks in the Top 24 of the NBA draft. 

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 11:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels walks off of the court after they lost 85-82 against the Florida State Seminoles during the Final Game of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conference Tournament at Philips Arena on
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Cashing in on this pick must happen for Dan Gilbert the Cavaliers organization. If they can find an All-Star with this pick, it will set them up for great seasons ahead.

Harrison Barnes dropped 40 points on Clemson in the ACC tournament two years ago. His mid-range game is dynamic. The Cavaliers need to draft the former North Carolina star.  

Barnes has great size and underrated athleticism. He averaged 17.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game this past season. It doesn't seem like he's getting the amount of respect he deserves and that's because of how consistent he was compared to his extremely high expectations.

People expected way too much from Barnes coming out of high school. He didn't perform like Michael Jordan, but he performed like a future NBA All-Star. Something that he can clearly be at the next level. 


5. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut

Andre Drummond is a player who could be great but could also flop. Which player will we see? 

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 06:  Andre Drummond #12 of the Connecticut Huskies lays up a basket against the DePaul Blue Demons during their first round game of the 2012 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 6, 2012 in New York Ci
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Will we see his dominant athleticism on both ends of the floor? Or will we see a guy who struggles offensively and doesn't show up consistently? 

Sacramento will find out. 


6. Portland Trail Blazers (via Brooklyn): Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas  

One of the most underrated or not talked about players is Kansas' Thomas Robinson. All he does is record double-double after double-double. 

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 02:  Thomas Robinson #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks shoots over Terrence Jones #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats in the first half in the National Championship Game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Mercedes-Benz
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Robinson can produce at the next level given his talent and overall skill set.  


7. Golden State Warriors (via Utah): Perry Jones III, PF, Baylor *

Golden State has two picks in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft. Similar to Cleveland, the Warriors must select their first pick wisely. 

I just don't think that they will. 

Perry Jones is another bust candidate. He's also a player that could be the steal of the draft if he pans out.

If I had to guess, I would say more of the former. He's a player who tends to fade away from the spotlight on the floor; people consider him soft. He doesn't show up for every game. 

Jones has talent, but he hasn't put it together quite like scouts would like. 


8. Toronto Raptors: Austin Rivers, G, Duke 

There are few players in this draft class with as much explosiveness as Austin Rivers. 

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 10:  Austin Rivers #30 of the Duke Blue Devils during the semifinals of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at Philips Arena on March 10, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

His offensive game is dynamic and he can get to the rim when he wants. Rivers was asked to be the scorer, facilitator, last-shot taker and leader of a Duke team. He was just a freshman.

When was the last time you could say that about a player from Duke? It just shows his value on the floor. 


9. Detroit Pistons: Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State

Arnett Moultrie is a guy who didn't receive a ton of love this season. I keep wondering why not? This guy is NBA ready. 

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - JANUARY 7:  Julysses Nobles #23 of the Arkansas Razorbacks tries to block the shot of Arnett Moultrie #23 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Bud Walton Arena on January 7, 2012 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty I
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Moultrie brings quality size and athleticism from the power forward position.


10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota) Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina *

Kendall Marshall is the best pure point guard in this draft class. However, you can easily make the case that Weber State's Damian Lillard provides athleticism, scoring ability and more of a today's NBA point guard approach.

This selection may determine whether New Orleans is a legitimate contender in three years. 

Marshall averaged eight points and 10 assists per game this past season at North Carolina. If New Orleans is looking for a facilitator of a point guard, Marshall should be their selection. But if they want scoring, more of a today's NBA point guard, Lillard should be the guy.

This will be an interesting pick.  


11. Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State 

Assuming New Orleans selects Marshall, which may or may not happen, Portland will gobble up the other point guard. For now, we'll just say it's Lillard. 

Lillard has star potential written all over him. He averaged 24.5 points, five rebounds and four assists per game this past season. 

He is a great scoring threat and his talents translate to today's point guards; guys who can attack the rim with reckless abandon. 


12. Milwaukee Bucks: Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina

No Andrew Bogut means Milwaukee will be looking for a center. North Carolina's Tyler Zeller should be the option with the No. 12 overall pick. 

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 25:  Tyler Zeller #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels attempts a shot in the first half against Thomas Robinson #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Midwest Regional Final at Edward Jones Dome on March 25, 2
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Zeller runs the floor well, has solid size and is strong enough to compete down low. He would be a nice fit in Milwaukee.  


13. Phoenix Suns: Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse 

Dion Waiters has legitimate scoring threat written all over him. He brings instant offense every time he's implemented into the game. 

He came off the bench for Syracuse despite being the Orange's best offensive weapon.


14. Houston Rockets: Royce White, PF, Iowa State 

Royce White has star quality in his game. He can do a bit of everything on the basketball court. 

He can handle the ball, shoot from outside, lead transition breaks and find the open man. He's a potential superstar. Houston should select him with the No. 14 pick. 


15. Philadelphia 76ers: John Henson, PF, North Carolina 

Philadelphia needs size desperately. John Henson averaged 13.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game this past year at North Carolina.

Henson has great size and rebounding ability. If he can bulk up, Philadelphia could get a very good role player in the middle of the first round. 


16. Houston Rockets (via New York): Terrence Ross, SG, Washington

Terrence Ross is a candidate to be one of the many steals in the first round. He has solid size, athletic ability and can score the rock. 

Ross averaged 15.3 points and 6.5 rebounds this past season at Washington. 


17. Dallas Mavericks: Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut

Jeremy Lamb scored 17.7 points in his sophomore season at Connecticut. He seemed to be overlooked because of how consistent he was, just like Harrison Barnes.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 07:  Jeremy Lamb #3 of the Connecticut Huskies puts up a shot against Deniz Kilicli #13 and Darryl Bryant #25 of the West Virginia Mountaineers  during their second round game of the 2012 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madiso
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

But Lamb was expected to do so much after having a solid freshman season. He was supposed to lead his team to another national championship. 

His expectations were simply too high. Averaging 17.7 points per game in the Big East Conference is pretty impressive if you ask me. He'll be a nice player in the league. 


18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah): Moe Harkless, G/F St. John's 

Size, athleticism, 7'0" wingspan, a dynamic offensive skill set and underrated defensive skills is what St. John's Moe Harkless brings to the show. 

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 06:  Moe Harkless #4 of the St. John's Red Storm in action against the Pittsburgh Panthers during their first round game of the 2012 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 6, 2012 in New York City.  (Ph
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Harkless scored 15.3 points and recorded 8.6 rebounds per game in his freshman season. He's another one of those players who is slim and trim, but can fill it up with consistency. 


19. Orlando Magic: Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois

Is Dwight Howard staying or going? My guess is that he'll bolt Orlando, leaving the organization hostage. 

CHAMPAIGN, IL - JANUARY 10: Meyers Leonard #12 of the Illinois Fighting Illini celebrates late in the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Assembly Hall on January 10, 2012 in Champaign, Illinois. The Illini defeated the Buckeyes 79-74. (Photo by Joe R
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Orlando must plan for the future in the 2012 NBA draft just in case. Meyers Leonard would be a solid selection with his size and skill set. 


20. Denver Nuggets: Jared Sullinger, C/PF, Ohio State 

Jared Sullinger continues to move down draft boards, but I've always had him well out of the lottery. He's close to slipping down further, too.

Sullinger struggled against size and athleticism at Ohio State. It frustrated him, he couldn't find his offensive game and his position on the block worsened against quality defenders.

What will he do against these guys on a game-by-game basis?

Sullinger will be a role player in the NBA, not a star. He will slide down the draft board. 


21. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure *

Boston may shop these two picks, but for the sake of the mock, let's say that they keep the picks since it hasn't happened yet. 

I haven't changed this pick from the beginning, so let's keep it the same way. Andrew Nicholson reminds me of Kevin Garnett, a guy who can dominate in the mid-range game. Boston should give him a hard look with this pick.   


22. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt *

Going along with shopping the picks, Boston may have the most important draft-day trades if they decide to pull the trigger. 

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - MARCH 15:  John Jenkins #23 of the Vanderbilt Commodores shoots against the Harvard Crimson during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at The Pit on March 15, 2012 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  (Photo by Ronald M
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Maybe they try one more year by shopping these picks to pick up a couple quality veterans? We'll find out.

Boston should choose John Jenkins from Vanderbilt if they keep this pick, however. He's a guy who can replace Ray Allen with his dominant outside shooting ability. 


23. Atlanta Hawks: Tony Wroten Jr., PG, Washington 

Tony Wroten is 6'5", 203 pounds, excellent at getting to the rim and has great vision. Today's NBA isn't necessarily about true point guards, it's about athletic point guards—guys who can get to the rim and make things happen. 

Wroten is that type of player. He has the characteristics and skill set of today's best. He'll be a solid fit in an Atlanta uniform. 


24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Jae Crowder, Forward, Marquette *

Jae Crowder is the reigning Big East Player of the Year, but he isn't receiving the respect he deserves. At 6'6", he could play multiple positions including small forward and even shooting guard if he can improve his outside shot. 

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 22:  Jae Crowder #32 of the Marquette Golden Eagles reacts while taking on the Florida Gators during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball West Regional Semifinal game at US Airways Center on March 22, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jam
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Crowder is from a Marquette crop that consistently worked harder than the majority of teams they played against. Crowder was the leader on the floor with his play. He averaged 17.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game this past season.

He plays hard on the floor. Crowder shot 50 percent from the floor this past season. He's a guy who can get at you defensively, which turns teams over. He recorded 2.5 steals per game this past season.

With an NBA-ready body, there isn't much to dislike about Crowder. 


25. Memphis Grizzlies: Quincy Miller, F, Baylor 

Quincy Miller could have been a lottery pick if he stayed in school another year. Instead, he's looking like a late first-round selection.

He has the athletic ability, talent and skill set, but he needs to be more consistent. Memphis will draft Miller as more of a project, work with him on a day-by-day basis and hope he reaches his potential. 


26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky 

Indiana needs another scoring threat from its backcourt. Marquis Teague, from Indianapolis, should be the selection. 

He can create his own shot and others off of penetration. 


27. Miami Heat: Fab Melo, C, Syracuse

Miami needs size down low. If not a starter, at least some depth at the position.

Fab Melo provides great size, defense, rebounding and underrated athleticism. Miami should draft based on need with this pick. 


28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jeffery Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt

Oklahoma City didn't have enough scoring to win the NBA Finals. It was obvious. That's one of the biggest reasons why I had Miami winning in six games.

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - MARCH 15:  Jeffery Taylor #44 of the Vanderbilt Commodores reacts while playing against the Harvard Crimson in the second half of the game during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at The Pit on March 15, 2012
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Now that they have had a chance to take in what happened to them against the Heat, it's time to look to the draft for answers.

Enter Jeffery Taylor.

He's a guy with size and scoring ability from the outside. The fit makes sense. 


29. Chicago Bulls: Will Barton, SG, Memphis

Will Barton shot 51 percent from the floor while averaging 18 points per game this past season at Memphis. He's a scorer that would fit well with Chicago.  

Barton should be the selection for Chicago if they decide to hold onto the pick. 


30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio) Evan Fournier, SG, France 

Evan Fournier may be the only European player drafted in the NBA draft this year. He should be slotted somewhere late in the first round. 

He will be a project in the league, but he could become a great player if coaches handle him properly. 



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