2012 NBA Mock Draft: Final Picks and Predictions for Draft Day
As the draft is now just hours away, the intrigue is through the roof and the rumors are plentiful.
"This guy could be headed there for that pick," and "this veteran could be on the move, which would shake up the whole draft."
With the number of early trades that normally occur in the NBA draft, it's nearly impossible to accurately project how the top of the board plays out.
One thing is for sure, it won't be long before a team slated to pick in the lottery trades out of its spot and shakes up the layout of the draft.
Although there are an abundance of rumors regarding veteran players and teams trying to move up in the draft, it's important to remember not all speculation should be taken seriously. In the NBA draft, where there's smoke, there's ... usually just smoke.
There will in all likelihood be several trades involving veteran players and draft picks. The Houston Rockets, armed with picks 12, 16 and 18, seem to be in the best position to make a blockbuster trade on draft night.
We'll soon see if the Rockets can put together a package to jettison themselves into the top five, and if they do, how that will shake up the entire layout of the 2012 NBA Draft.
1) New Orleans Hornets – PF Anthony Davis, Kentucky
The Hornets struck gold when they won this year’s draft lottery, and their reward comes in the form of Anthony Davis.
After trading Emeka Okafor to the Wizards, New Orleans has a clear need in its frontcourt, and Davis will immediately be an improvement over Okafor. The intrigue surrounding the Hornets will be when they’re on the clock again at No. 10.
There are a lot of uncertainties and different possibilities following the first pick, but there’s no question at the top. Davis is the obvious choice.
2) Charlotte Bobcats – PF Thomas Robinson, Kansas
When preparing a mock draft, the first step is to look at the needs of a specific team.
In the case of the abysmal Charlotte Bobcats, you could put a big red circle around every position from point guard to center.
However, D.J. Augustin and Kemba Walker combine for an average backcourt—great by Wizards’ standards. So the Bobcats would be wise to bolster a weak frontcourt that relied heavily on rookie Bismack Biyombo and inexperienced B.J. Mullens in 2011.
Thomas Robinson would immediately step in as Charlotte’s go-to post threat as a rookie.
3) Washington Wizards – SG Bradley Beal, Florida
While I do believe Anthony Davis will be a smashing success in the NBA, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bradley Beal has a similar, or perhaps even better, professional career.
Behind the three-point arc, Beal is as pure as any rookie prospect in recent memory. Needless to say, I really, really like this guy.
The Cavaliers would love to jump the Wizards and take Beal at No. 2, but I don’t think the Bobcats will press their luck and trade down at the expense of losing Thomas Robinson.
This is the ideal situation for Washington. They add perhaps the second-best player in the draft—an elite shooter—to play alongside their promising young point guard John Wall.
4) Cleveland Cavaliers – SF Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Cleveland would love to get its hands on Brad Beal, but they’d need to give up a king’s ransom in order to move up to No. 2 to do so.
Beal is the obvious priority for the Cavs, but if he were gone, the decision would likely be between Kidd-Gilchrist and Barnes.
Both are good players, but with a glaring need for additional scoring alongside point guard Kyrie Irving, I’d expect the Cavs to lean towards Barnes over MKG.
5) Houston Rockets – C Andre Drummond, Connecticut (Projected Trade)
*HOU trades No. 12, 16, Kyle Lowry and Jon Leuer to SAC for No. 5 and Tyreke Evans.
I simply can’t see the Rockets pulling off a trade for Dwight Howard, nor can I see them keeping the No. 12, 16 and 18 picks. As a result, they’ll package some of these picks with PG Kyle Lowry to move into the top ten for the player they covet—Andre Drummond.
A deal between the two teams has reportedly been rejected already, but you have to take everything with a grain of salt this close to the draft. There is probably a 95 percent chance I’m wrong on the exact deal, but I do believe a trade will be made.
6) Portland Trail Blazers – PG Damian Lillard, Weber State
With the current state of its point guard position, Portland would be wise to take the high-scoring small school prospect at this point. They could press their luck and hope he’s still available at No. 11, but he’d almost certainly be off the board at that point.
Ideally, the Blazers would use their two first-round picks on a point guard and a big man to pair with All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
Portland will likely have an opportunity to select either Meyers Leonard or Tyler Zeller at 11, but they won’t be able to add a point guard of Lillard’s caliber.
7) Golden State Warriors – SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
Golden State seems like an obvious trading spot at No. 7, that is, unless this exact situation plays out and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist falls into the Warriors’ lap.
With a scoring point guard in Steph Curry, a sharpshooter at shooting guard in Klay Thompson and a David Lee-Andrew Bogut combination in the backcourt, Golden State’s only glaring need in the starting lineup is a reliable defensive stopper at small forward.
MKG would obviously be the perfect fit for the Warriors.
If they decide to stay at No. 7 and Kidd-Gilchrist is off the board, I’d assume they’d take Dion Waiters, whom Jerry West is said to be very high on.
8) Toronto Raptors – SG Dion Waiters, Syracuse
With former top pick Andrea Bargnani returning to the lineup in 2012, and last year’s first-round pick Jonas Valenciunias expected to join the team, the Raptors should have a much-improved, versatile frontcourt this upcoming season.
Toronto could use a makeover in its backcourt, and Dion Waiters may be the most natural scorer in the entire draft.
Although they’re picking in the lottery, I firmly believe the Raptors have enough talent to compete in the playoffs next season. Either Waiters or Austin Rivers would be able to step in and make an immediate impact as a rookie.
9) Detroit Pistons – PF John Henson, UNC
With a talented post player already in the form of Greg Monroe, the Pistons will likely use their top pick on a big man to pair with him.
Henson is a natural shot blocker, and although he has a lot of room for improvement as an offensive player, he’d immediately help an NBA on the defensive end as a rookie.
Barring a team like Milwaukee jumping ahead of Detroit to take Henson, I believe he’s the Pistons’ guy here over Illinois center Meyers Leonard or North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller.
A sleeper pick to watch is Duke’s Austin Rivers, but I don’t see that as an option unless Henson is already off the board.
10) New Orleans Hornets – SG Austin Rivers, Duke
After taking the best player in the draft with the top pick, the Hornets will likely focus on their backcourt with the No. 10 pick.
Although the Hornets hope to lock up their current go-to scoring threat Eric Gordon for the long haul, Rivers would be a welcome scoring punch to a team in need of an offensive shock.
If Damian Lillard were to get past the Blazers with the sixth pick, New Orleans would likely go that route over Rivers or Waiters at No. 10. But with Lillard and Waiters off the board, Rivers looks like the obvious pick.
Another option for the Hornets would be to add a center like Leonard or Zeller.
11) Portland Trail Blazers – C Meyers Leonard, Illinois
Alongside their All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, the Blazers have a glaring need at center.
After passing on the draft’s top center prospect Andre Drummond with its top pick, Portland will likely look to either Meyers Leonard or Tyler Zeller with the 11th pick.
Although many seem to have Leonard and Zeller closely rated, I personally think Leonard is clearly the better prospect and I’d expect the Blazers to go that route if the board played out this way.
It’s hard to imagine a better scenario for the Blazers than adding the draft’s top point guard and a promising young center to their young nucleus.
12) Sacramento Kings (From MIL/HOU) – PF Perry Jones, Baylor (Projected Trade)
*HOU trades No. 12, 16, Kyle Lowry and Jon Leuer to SAC for No. 5 and Tyreke Evans.
After a blockbuster trade with the Houston Rockets, Sacramento has a need for a perimeter scorer in the (projected) absence of Tyreke Evans, and their need for a frontcourt scoring punch alongside DeMarcus Cousins still remains.
If Perry Jones had declared for the draft a year ago, he likely would have been a top-five pick. As a borderline-lottery pick this year, expectations for Jones won’t be quite as lofty in his rookie season.
Although his “floor” could be a player that fizzles out of the league in a few years, his “ceiling” could be that of an NBA All-Star.
13) Phoenix Suns – SG Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
With veteran point guard Steve Nash likely headed elsewhere as a free agent, the Suns lack a true offensive identity. Jeremy Lamb is a natural scorer, who at times makes it look so easy that it comes across as him being disinterested.
Lamb would be a welcome addition to the Suns not only as an offensive player, but on the defensive end as well. Standing 6’ 5” with a 6’ 11” wingspan, Lamb would be able to guard all three perimeter positions as long as he’s properly coached and motivated.
Lamb averaged 17.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game last season at Connecticut. That’s a pretty solid line headed into the NBA.
14) Milwaukee Bucks (From HOU) – SG Terrence Ross, Washington
After their blockbuster trade with the Golden State Warriors, the Bucks have an Andrew Bogut-sized hole at the center position.
However, on Wednesday afternoon the Bucks struck gold when they turned three replaceable players and the No. 12 pick into a new starting center (Samuel Dalembert) and only moved down two spots.
Terrence Ross and Perry Jones will likely be on the Bucks’ radar at 14, and I’d expect Ross to be their top choice.
Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are the Bucks’ two guards, and they’re both under 6’3.” Ross, at 6’ 7,” would give them some versatility at the guard position, especially on the defensive end.
15) Philadelphia 76ers – C Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
Philadelphia has made it pretty clear that they want to acquire a young, athletic big man with their top pick.
At No. 15, Tyler Zeller would be a tremendous value for the 76ers.
Playing in a high-octane offensive attack at North Carolina, Zeller’s motor never stopped despite being a 7’ 0” center. Philadelphia would hope that trend continues in the NBA playing with a young backcourt in Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner.
If either Zeller, Leonard or Perry Jones is available at this point, I’d think that has to be the pick.
16) Sacramento Kings – SF Moe Harkless, St. John’s (Projected Trade)
*HOU trades No. 12, 16, Kyle Lowry and Jon Leuer to SAC for No. 5 and Tyreke Evans.
Whether it comes in the form of an established veteran or an unproven rookie, the Kings want to add an athletic perimeter player this offseason.
Moe Harkless is a natural scorer who would be expected to pick up some of the slack left by Tyreke Evans—if he is, in fact, traded.
Harkless could develop into a solid perimeter defender with proper coaching, and at 16 overall, he’d be a great value to the Kings after adding a post player at 14.
17) Dallas Mavericks – PG Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Marshall is a gifted facilitator, which is one of the most important responsibilities for a point guard. With the future of Jason Kidd in Dallas nearing its end, Marshall’s similar style would fit in nicely with a veteran supporting cast.
Although I have my doubts about Marshall’s potential in the NBA, I think he could develop into an Andre Miller-type player as his career progresses. And the Mavericks seem like the perfect fit for him.
He has a lot of room for improvement as a jump shooter, but his pass-first tendencies are natural and hard to teach.
18) Houston Rockets (via MIN) – PF Terrence Jones, Kentucky
After trading picks 14 and 16 to get into the top ten for Connecticut center Andre Drummond, Houston still has an additional first-round pick at No. 18.
With their center of the future on the roster, the Rockets can grab the best player on the board, which happens to be versatile forward Terrence Jones. Jones has an NBA-build and is capable of getting physical in the paint, while also possessing a smooth jump shot.
It’s hard to imagine a better situation for the Rockets than this scenario, assuming they’re unable to acquire Dwight Howard.
19) Orlando Magic – PF Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
With the future of Dwight Howard in Orlando cloudy at best, the Magic have an obvious need for an athletic post player. Arnett Moultrie is a tremendous athlete, capable of playing either power forward or center in the NBA if he’s able to add weight to his 6’11” 230-pound frame.
In the event that Orlando hangs onto Howard for one more season, Moultrie would be the perfect player to be groomed behind him.
20) Denver Nuggets – SF Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt
The Nuggets are a fun team to watch. They have several capable scorers surrounding a lightning quick, intelligent point guard in Ty Lawson.
It’s rare that a team gets better after trading a superstar, but Denver has been a better team since shipping Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. Denver would be wise to add another highly athletic guard-forward to their squad, and Jeffery Taylor certainly fits the bill.
Baylor’s Quincy Miller fits the bill of “high risk, high reward,” but at No. 20, the Nuggets would be better off taking the safer bet in Taylor.
21) Boston Celtics – PF Royce White, Iowa State
Boston’s “big three” seems to be history. There have been rumors that Ray Allen may be headed to Miami this offseason, and the future of Kevin Garnett as a Celtic is in serious doubt.
As a result, the Celtics need to start rebuilding their roster. Royce White certainly has some red flags headed into the league, but he’d be worth the pick at No. 21.
White is one of several NBA-ready forwards in this year’s draft, and he could be expected to play a limited role immediately as a rookie.
22) Boston Celtics (via OKC) – SG Doron Lamb, Kentucky
As mentioned when explaining Boston’s previous pick, Ray Allen is more than likely done as a member of the Boston Celtics. Although they have a capable replacement in place by way of Avery Bradley, he isn’t nearly the three-point shooter that Allen is—not many people are.
Doron Lamb, however, is a terrific shooter with a pure stroke behind the arc. He likely won’t ever be a starter in the NBA, but he could be expected to fill a key role as one of the team’s top reserves.
23) Atlanta Hawks – C Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
The Atlanta Hawks are said to have their sights set on the No. 2 overall pick in order to grab Thomas Robinson. If they’re willing to part with Al Horford, the second pick is a realistic goal for the Hawks.
If they stay at 23, I think they’ll try to bolster their frontcourt, and Andrew Nicholson makes a lot of sense at that point. Nicholson is a long and extremely athletic post player, who could step in and give Atlanta some much-needed defense early in his NBA career.
24) Cleveland Cavaliers – PF Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
In this midst of a free-fall down the draft board, the Cavs stop Sullinger’s plunge with the No. 24 pick. If not for concerns about his back, Sullinger would almost certainly be a lottery pick. Although I wouldn’t touch him at that point, regardless of the condition of his back.
He may not have elite athleticism, which is cause for concern when talking about today’s post players in the NBA, but he’s a great value at the 24th pick. Between Sullinger and Harrison Barnes, the Cavs would have had a great first round in this scenario.
25) Memphis Grizzlies – SG John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
The Grizzlies have a lot of athletes on the perimeter, and that’s a good thing when you have an unselfish point guard like Mike Conley. Next to Brad Beal, Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins is very likely the best shooter in the 2012 draft class.
He may never be a starter at the NBA level, but he could immediately step in and fill a Mike Miller/Jodie Meeks type role with an NBA team as a spot-up shooter.
One thing is certain, a pass-first point guard will always find his shooters. Jenkins would be a nice, new toy for Conley at the point guard position.
26) Indiana Pacers – PG/SG Tony Wroten, Washington
Sometimes it’s worth rolling the dice and gambling on a ‘high reward” type player when picking late in the first round. If Tony Wroten had stayed at Washington and waited until 2013 to enter the draft, he may have been a top-ten, or even top-five selection.
Indiana has a solid backcourt with the criminally underrated George Hill at point guard, and both Danny Granger and Paul George on the wings. Adding a versatile player like Wroten, with the potential to play either point guard or shooting guard, would be a welcome addition to a promising, young team.
27) Miami Heat – C Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
As the defending NBA Champions, the Miami Heat have very few holes on their roster, but they have a glaring need for a long, athletic post player capable of being a reliable rebounder at the professional level.
Although Fab Melo seems to be rated higher on nearly every board, I like Festus Ezeli more as a player. He’s a natural athlete and will only improve with proper coaching and playing alongside talented players.
Ezeli would immediately step into a spot in the Heat’s frontcourt rotation, and he’d be expected to make an impact as a rookie.
28) Oklahoma City Thunder – F Draymond Green, Michigan State
OKC doesn’t have many holes, so they’re in a position to take whichever player they think could most help their team as a rookie.
As a college player, Draymond Green was simply one of the best in the country. Not only was he a terrific player and a hard-worker, Green may have been the most vocal and influential team leader in college basketball.
Stepping into a situation such as OKC, a young team led by their talented and humble leader Kevin Durant, Green’s levelheaded attitude would be a seamless fit.
Although he’s only about 6’ 5,” Green’s motor will allow him to have a successful NBA career.
29) Chicago Bulls – SF Quincy Miller, Baylor
Chicago is another team that seems to be interested in moving up in the draft.
Whether or not they’re able to accomplish their goal and get into the top is another issue, but if they stay at No. 29, I’d expect them to add the best perimeter scorer available.
Quincy Miller has a very slight frame and had a disappointing offseason headed into the draft, but if he’s able to bulk up and fine-tune his game, he has as much potential as anyone outside the lottery.
Miller could fizzle out of the league in five years, or we could all be looking back on him and saying, “Wow. He lasted until the 29th pick?”
30) Golden State Warriors (via SA) – C Fab Melo, Syracuse
After Christmas came early and MKG fell into their lap with the No. 7 pick, the Warriors’ starting lineup appears to be settled. Now, they can focus on bolstering their depth in a weak frontcourt headed by David Lee and Andrew Bogut.
Fab Melo had his academic struggles at Syracuse, but no one questions his potential as a basketball player. If he works hard and continues to improve his offensive skills, Melo could be a very reliable center at the NBA level.
As a rookie, his role would likely be as a high-energy rebounder in small spurts of playing time.