2012 NBA Mock Draft: Where Will Top Prospects Land Thursday Night?

Matt Shetler@@buccos12Correspondent IJune 27, 2012

2012 NBA Mock Draft: Where Will Top Prospects Land Thursday Night?

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    With the 2012 NBA Draft only a day away, the next 24 hours promise to be very hectic.

    In a very deep draft, a number of teams will be looking to move into the first round. A number more will be looking to move up to land that one difference-maker they covet.

    Then there are the teams that may look to deal out off the first round for more experienced talent.

    Whatever happens, there will be a lot of buzz concerning the fate of a number of top prospects. Where will the top prospects eventually land?

    Let's take a look in my latest mock draft.

1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, Kentucky

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    Davis is the only certain thing in this draft as we know he's going No. 1 overall.

    He's a game-changer on the defensive end, blocking 4.7 shots per game and grabbing 10.4 rebounds per night.

    He has guard skills in a 6'11" frame and has a nice offensive package to go along with his defensive prowess, shooting 63 percent from the floor on the season.

    His insane length, outstanding instincts and high basketball IQ will make an impact immediately in New Orleans.

2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, Kansas

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    The Bobcats will be better off trading this pick, and if they do, some team likely will move up to No. 2 to select Brad Beal.

    But if Charlotte stays here, the safe pick is Robinson.

    The Bobcats have a lot of holes to fill, and the NBA-ready power forward can come in and contribute immediately.

    He's a high character player and a leader, which the Bobcats need. In addition, Robinson produces, recording 27 double-doubles on the season.

3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal, Florida

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    Unless someone trades up to get him, Beal is probably a lock to go to Washington at No. 3.

    With the trade that brought Washington Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, the Wizards now have a hole at the 2 and are in need of a lights-out shooter. 

    Beal fits that bill and a John Wall-Beal backcourt looks nice for the future. Don't be surprised if someone moves up to No. 2, though, to take Beal away from Washington.

    He has the ability to become the best pure scorer in the draft, but he's a guy that does everything well, including being one of the best rebounding guards in the draft, pulling down 6.8 boards per game as a freshman.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina

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    Cleveland loves Barnes, but they could package this pick in an attempt to move up to No. 2 to get Beal.

    If they stay here, they will go with Barnes, who adds the scorer they need. He can immediately become Cleveland's No. 1 scoring option after scoring 17.1 points per game on the season at North Carolina.

    Adding another young piece like Barnes means that the Cavs are on their way to being back.

5. Sacramento Kings: Michael-Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky

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    The Sacramento Kings need a big man, and Andre Drummond's high ceiling may be too tempting to pass on here.

    But the Kings gave up an NBA-worst 104.4 points per game last season, and MKG can be one of the better perimeter defenders in the league right off the bat.

    He is a high-character guy, a leader and an outstanding athlete that brings a ton of intangibles, along with a motor that doesn't quit.

    Kidd-Gilchrist is a gift to Sacramento at No. 5 if they keep the pick.

6. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey Nets): Damian Lillard, Weber State

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    I love Lillard's game and upside, and he fills a need for Portland as the Blazers need a point guard.

    Lillard averaged 24.5 points per game and is a lights-out shooter from anywhere on the floor, shooting 46.7 percent from the floor, 40.9 percent from behind the arc and 88.7 percent from the free-throw line.

    He brings toughness as well and is capable of running an NBA offense.

7. Golden State Warriors: Andrew Drummond, Connecticut

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    The Warriors need a productive small forward, but if they don't land one by dangling the No. 7 pick, there's no point in reaching on one here.

    Instead, Drummond could be the young, dominant big guy Golden State has been in need of.

    It's a roll of the dice given the fact that Drummond didn't dominate at UConn, but it's difficult to pass on someone with the physical package and enormous upside of Drummond.

8. Toronto Raptors: Dion Waiters, Syracuse

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    For a guy that was primarily a reserve in college, there's a ton of hype surrounding Waiters.

    But there's no doubting his overall talent. Waiters can be an explosive scorer and will be very good at both ends of the floor.

    Waiters 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. Waiters needs to improve his jumper, but he still knocked down 36 percent of his attempts from behind the arc, so the mechanics are there.

    He is tough and adds scoring and projects to be a very good NBA combo-guard.

9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson, North Carolina

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    Henson is a perfect fit in Detroit as they need to get more athletic and need a shot-blocking presence to pair with Greg Monroe.

    His offensive game needs to develop, but Henson is athletic and runs the floor very well, so he will be very good in transition.

    What he brings to Detroit, though, is a guy who blocked 2.9 shots per game and grabbed 10.1 rebounds per game.

    A Henson-Monroe frontcourt could turn out to be very good.

10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Austin Rivers, Duke

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    New Orleans can go any direction with this pick, but even though they have the chance to re-sign Eric Gordon, Rivers may be too tempting to pass on here.

    He was only the third freshman to ever lead Duke in scoring (15.5 PPG) and adds another scorer, long-range shooting and potential star power to the New Orleans lineup, all things the Hornets need badly.

    In addition, he adds insurance in case Gordon leaves as a restricted free agent. Adding Davis and Rivers will make this a very good draft for New Orleans.

11. Portland Trail Blazers: Meyers Leonard, Illinois

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    Leonard has a ton of upside 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. Leonard led the Big 10 in blocked shots (1.9), and even though he is a raw talent, the NBA is always enamored with size.

    The Illinois product has the chance to turn out to be very productive.

12. Milwaukee Bucks: Tyler Zeller, North Carolina

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    Milwaukee needs a center, and Zeller could become a pretty good one.

    The ACC Player of the Year averaged 16.3 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game for North Carolina, and while I doubt he will be that good in the NBA, he will be productive.

    Zeller runs the floor very well and has very good leaping skills.

    He isn't flashy and won't be an All-Star, but Zeller is good fundamentally and could be a solid NBA player for a decade or more.

13. Phoenix Suns: Terrence Ross, Washington

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    I like Ross a lot and think he eventually could go higher come Thursday night.

    The Suns need a productive 2-guard for backcourt depth, and they'll get a really good player in Ross, who has great size at 6'6" and does everything well on the floor.

    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.

    Ross could be a sleeper Rookie of the Year candidate.

14. Houston Rockets: Perry Jones III, Baylor

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    The Rockets now have three first-round picks, and I expect them to be active in either trying to move up in the draft or trying to land Dwight Howard.

    Whoever picks here, though, I love Jones this late. He has simply too much raw talent to slide any further.

    If he was drafted on talent alone, Jones would be a top-three pick. He can run like a deer and jump through the gym, but he's never been able to produce consistently.

    He's super athletic, but there are questions about his motor. Eventually the rewards will outweigh the risks and Jones has too much talent not to roll the dice on this late. 

    If he can figure things out, Jones will be a star.

15. Philadelphia 76ers: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut

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    Philadelphia needs a go-to guy, and Lamb could be exactly that as he averaged 17.7 points per game while at UConn. If the Sixers trade Andre Iguodala and move Evan Turner to the 3, then Lamb becomes an even better fit.

    He can extend his game beyond the arc—shooting 33.6 percent from three-point range—but has a devastating mid-range game.

    In addition, his 7'0" wingspan should make him tough defensively, which Doug Collins will like.

    Lamb is young but has a ton of upside and could be a steal at No. 15 for the Sixers. 

16. Houston Rockets (via New York Knicks): Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State

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    Moultrie's big and strong enough to play either the 4 or the 5, but has the athleticism of a guard. He's a tenacious rebounder, but can also stretch the defense as he can score effectively inside or outside.

    He has a high motor, and he produces, averaging 16.4 PPG, 10.5 RPG) while shooting 55 percent from the floor and 44 percent from behind the arc.

    I worry about Moultrie's commitment at the defensive end of the floor, but if Houston stays in this spot, they get a needed big man who can score, rebound and has a very high upside.

17. Dallas Mavericks: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina

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    He's 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 makes everyone around him better.

    Marshall is the best pure floor general in the draft and makes passing the rock look much easier than it really is, setting the ACC single-season assist mark (351).

    Dallas needs to get younger, and if they think they can't sign Deron Williams, Marshall is a very nice alternative with an eye on the future.

18. Houston Rockets (via Utah Jazz): Moe Harkless, St. John's

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    Again, this all depends if Houston keeps this pick, which I don't think they will.

    But even though they need backcourt depth, Harkless has the potential and upside to be a star. Taking the best available player on the board makes sense for Houston, who, if they can't trade up, are in a position to stockpile young talent.

    Harless is a great athlete who can score (15.5 PPG) and rebound (8.6 RPG).

    He's a guy with a very bright future.

19. Orlando Magic: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

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    The Magic, depending on what happens with Dwight Howard in the next couple of days, could use a real low-post scorer. Sullinger is the top talent left on the board and a player who could come in and contribute immediately, despite the medical red flags.

    While I never see Sullinger becoming an All-Star, he could be productive next to a quality center. He averaged 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds during his Ohio State career, and while he likely won't reach those levels in the NBA for a while, Sullinger could still be productive.

    His lack of athleticism is a concern, but here's another case where the rewards could outweigh the risks. I like his post game, and he could be a decent NBA power forward.

20. Denver Nuggets: Terrence Jones, Kentucky

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    Jones is a great athlete, so George Karl's up-tempo attack won't be a problem. He  averaged 1.8 blocked shots and 1.3 steals for Kentucky, so his defensive ability could earn him immediate playing time.

    In addition, Jones can play either forward spot and can score at all three levels, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 33 percent from behind the arc.

    Denver is in a nice spot where they don't have any pressing needs and can afford to take the best player on the board, as Jones will just add quality depth to an up-and-coming Denver team.

21. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure

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    I  love Nicholson here for the Celtics, but he's also a guy that I can see rise up the board before draft day. 

    He has the ability to stretch the floor, averaging 18.5 points per game and shooting 57 percent from the floor and 43 percent from behind the arc. In addition, Nicholson averaged 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game, so he's committed to playing hard at both ends of the floor. 

    There's not much on the floor that he doesn't do well. He could contribute immediately for Boston, who needs some size badly, especially if Kevin Garnett doesn't return.

22. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Royce White, Iowa State

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    White is another guy that I think can come in and be a surprise from day one. He has lottery talent, but his anxiety disorder and a fear of flying could make him drop.

    He averaged 13.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game on the season, but while he stands 6’9”, White sees the floor like a guard. His 5.0 assists per game actually led the Iowa State team and ranked him fifth in the Big 12 Conference.

    Down the road, White could be the eventual replacement for Paul Pierce. With Nicholson and White, the Celtics get younger and more talented almost overnight.

23. Atlanta Hawks: Quincy Miller, Baylor

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    There's no debating his raw ability and huge upside if worth the risk this late. Down the road, Miller could have the ability to be a top scoring option for the Hawks.

    Atlanta will have to be patient with Miller as he's not NBA-ready right now, but if he reaches his massive potential, Miller has a chance to be an NBA star for a long time to come.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Fab Melo, Syracuse

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    Melo has nothing that resembles a post-game and has a very low basketball IQ. He won't be able score with his back to the basket right away, but he 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.

    With the fact that the Cavs are in need of size, he's worth a roll of the dice this late. 

    Melo has potential but has a long ways to go before he makes himself a quality NBA big man. Still, NBA general managers love size, and Melo has that.

25. Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Wroten, Washington

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    Memphis will have to take their time with Wroten, as he's another guy who isn't NBA-ready but has a ton of raw talent.

    The Grizzlies can afford to watch him develop and down the road he can become one of the better guards in this draft class.

    First, though, he must find a jumper as he may be the worst shooter to enter the draft in a very long time, knocking down only 16 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.

    In addition, Wroten takes lousy care of the basketball, turning it over 3.8 times per game while averaging only 3.7 assists per night. You don't run into many prospects who have a negative assist-to-turnover ratio.

    It doesn't help that he developed a reputation for being a bad teammate, which is something else he must shake.

    However, he has enormous talent and could be great if he refines his game.

26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague, Kentucky

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    Had he stayed in school, Teague would likely be a top-10 pick next season, so the talent is there. But while he has a high basketball IQ, his offensive game needs refined.

    He's not as far behind the NBA-level as Wroten is, but he still has some work to do. He understands offensive basketball, though, so there's a good chance he can become Indiana's long-term solution at the point guard.

    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 he ultimately could lead to them shopping Darren Collison.

27. Miami Heat: Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt

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    Taylor is an outstanding perimeter defender and has range on his jumper, knocking down 42 percent of his attempts from behind the arc. Considering the fact he hit just nine percent of his attempts as a sophomore, that speaks to Taylor's work ethic.

    In addition to being one of the better defenders in the draft, Taylor gives the NBA champs another elite athlete. He can get to the basket very easily as well and averaged 16.1 points per game on the season.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green, Michigan State

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    Green does a little bit of everything and does it all very well. He's not great at any one particular thing, but he understands how to play the game and has a knack for producing, evident by his triple-double and pair of double-doubles in the NCAA tournament.

    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.

    Green's a smart and tough player who can come in and fill a need immediately for the Thunder by being productive off the OKC bench.

    My only question is, who will Green guard in the NBA?

    He's way too small to guard the 4 and not quick enough to guard most NBA 3s. But just like in his college career, I expect him to find a way.

29. Chicago Bulls: Will Barton, Memphis

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    The Conference USA Player of the Year is rising up draft boards and can be the 2-guard the Bulls are looking for.

    He averaged 18.0 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 50.9 percent from the floor. He has the ability to produce and could become the replacement for Richard Hamilton down the road.

    He gives the Bulls another scoring option, which they badly need, and a Derrick Rose-Barton future backcourt could be rather good.

30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio Spurs): John Jenkins, Vanderbilt

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    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 could add some valuable bench scoring for the Warriors and could possibly crack the starting lineup, moving Klay Thompson to the 3.

    Jenkins has unlimited range, a lightning-quick release and could provide some secondary scoring in Golden State.