2012 NBA Mock Draft: Which NCAA Powerhouses Will Churn out the Most Talent?
Every year, certain schools take over the draft and send a ridiculous number of prospects to NBA squads. The 2012 NBA draft will be no different, with two NCAA powerhouses projected to move four players into the ranks of The Association.
Perhaps John Calipari is driving us into an era in which this will be even more common. After all, he's now proven that a team comprised mostly of one-and-dones can indeed not only compete for a collegiate title, but even win one.
In this mock draft, you'll find players' names italicized when they're coming from one of those powerhouses that is predicted to churn out more than just one first-round pick.
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
The chances of Anthony Davis dropping below the first pick of the 2012 NBA draft is completely and utterly negligible. New Orleans will surely draft the shot-blocking power forward on Thursday night and make him into the Hornets' new franchise player.
Davis' size indicates that he's going to take a little while to adjust, but it won't be long until he's blocking NBA shots with a vengeance.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
Thomas Robinson has every physical skill you could ask for in a power forward prospect. He's got endless reserves of energy, quickness, speed, athleticism, power and just about everything else.
The big man from Kansas is one of the more NBA-ready talents of the bunch.
3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal, Florida
Bradley Beal is never going to force the issue, but he's going to manage to get his while playing within the flow of the offense.
The shooting guard only spent one year at Florida, but it was a pretty good one, as he averaged 14.6 points per game.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
The second Kentucky Wildcat to be drafted thus far—and he certainly won't be the last—Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is unpolished on offense but ready to make noise on defense right away.
MKG is another player with all the physical tools your heart could desire. More than anything else, he's a winner.
5. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, Connecticut
As Andre Drummond's former teammate Jeremy Lamb said, "It depends on if he wants to work." More on that quote later.
Lamb is right, though, as Drummond has one of the highest ceilings in this draft class but is incredibly raw at the moment.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (from Brooklyn Nets): Damian Lillard, Weber State
Damian Lillard is going to struggle defensively during his rookie season, but he should be able to make up for it with his abundance of offensive skills.
The Weber State floor general is more of a shoot-first guard. Just don't let that fool you into thinking he's incapable of making great passes.
7. Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
The first North Carolina Tar Heel off the board, Harrison Barnes can light up the scoreboard if he lands in the right situation. This would be one of those places.
Barnes needs to find a team with a hole at small forward and a creative point guard who can help him create open opportunities. The Golden State Warriors fill both of those requirements, assuming that Stephen Curry can actually stay healthy.
8. Toronto Raptors: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
Let's revisit that quote about Andre Drummond here: "It depends on if he wants to work." Not only is that essentially the definition of the pot calling the kettle black, but it also says a good bit about the second Connecticut player off the board.
Jeremy Lamb has been knocked for not being a great leader, and this is just one more example of his willingness to throw a teammate under the bus.
9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson, North Carolina
Pairing John Henson, the second North Carolina Tar Heel taken, with Greg Monroe would make for one scary frontcourt duo in Detroit.
Henson's defensive skills would complement Greg Monroe's offensive ones perfectly and make up for the latter's lack of shot-blocking presence.
10. New Orleans Hornets (from Minnesota Timberwolves): Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
Now the number of Tar Heels off the board quickly jumps from two to three.
Tyler Zeller isn't going to be the most glamorous player in this draft, but he's solid in all facets of the game and should be able to make an immediate impact for his new team.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Dion Waiters, Syracuse
Dion Waiters thrives in transition and pick-and-roll situations, but he'll have to become more comfortable in half-court sets if he's going to excel at the next level.
The first member of the Syracuse Orange to go in 2012, Waiters was a combo guard in college and will likely settle in as an undersized shooting guard in the NBA.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Meyers Leonard, Illinois
A 7'1" big man with jumping skills that should remind you of a 6'1" guard, Meyers Leonard has the athleticism necessary to make it at the next level and overcome his relative inexperience.
Leonard is in the process of developing moves that require finesse. He'll need to, because he can't bully his way over and around everyone in The Association.
13. Phoenix Suns: Austin Rivers, Duke
Austin Rivers could very well be the go-to scorer that the Phoenix Suns need.
Unfortunately, he knows this and uses his yo-yo handles and shot-making abilities to get into the lane a little bit too often. As a result, he tends to make bad decisions and turn the ball over with alarming frequency.
14. Houston Rockets: Perry Jones III, Baylor
Perry Jones III should be going a lot higher in this draft, but it's his own fault he's not. The versatile forward never showed any consistency at Baylor and disappeared a bit too often for anyone's liking.
When he's motivated, PJ3 is unstoppable and can create a massive mismatch at small forward.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Terrence Jones has the skills to play small forward—that's where I believe he'll end up—and the physicality to line up as a power forward.
His best trait, though, isn't his versatility or fantastic defensive potential, but rather his incredible court vision that allows him to see everything developing slightly before all the other players at his position.
16. Houston Rockets (from New York Knicks): Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
If Arnett Moultrie can maintain some sort of consistency on defense and decide that he wants to be a great rebounder, he's going to be a steal outside of the lottery.
However, if he doesn't, he's going to be yet another talented offensive player with too many holes in his game to earn consistent playing time.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
This makes four North Carolina Tar Heels taken in the first 17 picks of the draft.
Kendall Marshall has incredible court vision that's impossible to pass on at this point (pun intended), but his scoring deficits and defensive shortcomings prohibit him from going much higher.
18. Houston Rockets (from Minnesota Timberwolves): Terrence Ross, Washington
Now that Chase Budinger has been traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the No. 18 pick, the Houston Rockets have three picks within six slots in the draft. Most likely, they're trying to package these together in an effort to get Dwight Howard.
I'm still going to operate under the faulty assumption that they keep the pick, though, and have already drafted Perry Jones III and Arnett Moultrie. Draft-day trades are impossible to predict.
Terrence Ross needs to put on some weight and muscle in order to avoid being pushed around too much once he gets to the next level, but he's a great defender and a terrific athlete who should succeed at either shooting guard or small forward.
The Houston Rockets don't need any guards, and Ross allows them to completely renovate the frontcourt.
19. Orlando Magic: Moe Harkless, St. John's
Just like Terrence Ross the pick before, Moe Harkless desperately needs to add some to his frame if he's going to make it at the more physical NBA level. This is even more of a priority for Harkless.
The small forward has incredible athleticism and quick defensive hands, but he needs more experience as well. Harkless' upside is immense, but he has a long way to go before reaching that ceiling.
20. Denver Nuggets: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Projecting Jared Sullinger's draft-day fall is nearly impossible. He's not a green room invitee, but he could very well be taken at the back end of the lottery or the early teens if a team is feeling risky.
The Denver Nuggets don't have any glaring needs during the draft, so they can afford to take a chance on Sully and hope his back isn't as problematic as some assume.
21. Boston Celtics: Royce White, Iowa State
Royce White won't be running the point for the Boston Celtics anytime soon, but his versatile skills will come in handy for a team that needs a few more quality forwards, especially if Kevin Garnett leaves.
The formerly anxiety-ridden athlete needs to cut down on the turnovers, and that should happen as he's forced to play off the ball more.
22. Boston Celtics (from Los Angeles Clippers): Andrew Nicholson. St. Bonaventure
The adjustment from St. Bonaventure to the NBA will most likely be difficult, but Andrew Nicholson has the skills to get through it.
The big man has some nice post moves on the interior, and he's gaining comfort while playing on the perimeter. He has the skills to become a true threat from anywhere on the court.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Tony Wroten, Washington
Tony Wroten has a broken jump shot, but the Atlanta Hawks won't let him lose it too often. The point of this pick is to provide Jeff Teague with some relief a few times a game while letting Wroten blossom from a raw project into a true point guard.
His athleticism and defense should make him a viable option as a rookie, but Wroten is a notoriously bad teammate who will have to adopt a new mentality to succeed.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Los Angeles Lakers): Fab Melo, Syracuse
Fab Melo isn't a great scorer or rebounder, but that's why the Cleveland Cavaliers have Anderson Varejao on the roster. The big-haired big man should be able to help mentor Melo and make him into a more complete player.
As it stands, Melo is a terrific defensive player, essentially the polar opposite of the New York Knicks star whose nickname is the same as this Syracuse big man's last name.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Evan Fournier, France
Evan Fournier isn't a tremendous athlete, and his jump shot finds the rim or backboard far too often, but he is an intelligent basketball player who would benefit from spending one more year overseas.
Fournier aggressively gets to the rim, seemingly at will, and always makes the right decisions on the basketball court.
26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague. Kentucky
Marquis Teague improved throughout his freshman season at Kentucky, going from potential weak link on a talented team to crucial puzzle piece for a champion in no time at all.
The younger brother of Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague, Marquis needs to continue to work on his decision-making, but he's well on his way to realizing his potential.
27. Miami Heat: Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
Festus Ezeli is the third-best Vanderbilt prospect in the draft, but he's the first one off the board because of the Miami Heat's willingness to draft for need at No. 27.
The Heat still need a quality center, and Ezeli is easily the best one left.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green, Michigan State
The Oklahoma City Thunder need a backup for Kevin Durant to give the NBA's leading scorer the occasional rest. That's exactly the role that Draymond Green needs as he's never going to be a star in the NBA.
He is a versatile player and a true winner, which will pay dividends for whichever team drafts him. Great glue guys with this much talent are hard to come by.
29. Chicago Bulls: Doron Lamb, Kentucky
Amazingly enough, Doron Lamb is the fifth Kentucky Wildcat off the board in the 2012 NBA draft. From most other schools, he'd easily be the first.
Frankly, Lamb might have been projected much farther up in the draft's proceedings if he'd gone to a different school and gotten a chance to show off his smooth offensive game a little bit more.
30. Golden State Warriors (From San Antonio Spurs): Quincy Miller, Baylor
Just like the other prospect taken from Baylor, Quincy Miller is not without his flaws, even if he is too talented to fall out of the first round.
Miller needs to fix his jumper and add weight as quickly as possible. He's far too skinny to avoid injury and ineffectiveness right now.
Kentucky: Five players drafted
North Carolina: Four players drafted
Baylor, Syracuse, Washington, Connecticut: Two players drafted
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