2012 NBA Mock Draft: Can Harrison Barnes Reclaim No. 1 Draft Position?
Is it way too early to be thinking about the 2012 NBA draft? Absolutely, but that should by no means stop you from looking through one of the first 2012 NBA mock drafts out there.
This mock is dominated by incoming freshman who will have to prove that they belong at their respective schools. But with James McAdoo, Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague, Myck Kabongo, Austin Rivers, Michael Gilchrist and more, there is no shortage of talent there.
Then there's the group of surefire lottery picks who returned for another year in school: Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones, Jared Sullinger and Terrence Jones.
Now add to those the rest of the ever-improving field of college basketball players.
Basically, this draft class is going to be just as strong as the last one was weak. I'm not even sure if Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams would both be top 10 picks next year.
And that makes this awfully fun to look at. Read on and enjoy!
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes: Small Forward, Sophomore, North Carolina Tar Heels
After putting up 15.7 points, 1.4 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game as a freshman, Barnes is poised to be vastly improved during his second season with the Tar Heels. He was much better as the season went on and was a true star during the postseason.
Get used to seeing Tar Heels, by the way.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: James McAdoo
James McAdoo: Small Forward/Power Forward, Freshman, North Carolina Tar Heels
James McAdoo quickly makes it two players in this mock for North Carolina.
With a great NBA pedigree (his father was former MVP Bob McAdoo), McAdoo is going to be a terrific forward during his freshman season with the Tar Heels thanks to his combination of insane athleticism and great all-around skills.
3. Toronto Raptors: Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis: Power Forward, Freshman, Kentucky Wildcats
Get used to seeing Kentucky players in this mock draft. Anthony Davis, an incoming freshman forward, will be the first of many.
Davis is another ridiculously athletic player blessed with great size, great rebounding potential and fantastic defensive ability.
4. Washington Wizards: Perry Jones
Perry Jones: Small Forward/Power Forward/Center, Sophomore, Baylor Bears
Perry Jones' freshman season was considered a little bit disappointing after he managed to average "only" 13.9 points, 1.2 assists and 7.2 rebounds per game for the Bears. That should tell you everything right there.
5. Sacramento Kings: Quincy Miller
Quincy Miller: Small Forward, Freshman, Baylor Bears
Making it two straight selections out of Baylor, Quincy Miller is another long and athletic forward who will make guarding the Bears quite tough indeed. At 6'9", 200 pounds, Miller definitely has the size to play in the NBA. His freshman season will show just how much game he has though.
6. New Jersey Nets: Jeremy Lamb
Jeremy Lamb: Shooting Guard, Sophomore, Connecticut Huskies
Lost in the hype surrounding Kemba Walker was the fantastic season that Jeremy Lamb enjoyed as a freshman. He averaged 11.1 points, 1.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game but picked up his production tremendously when it really mattered.
Lamb hid double-digits in the points columns in every single game after postseason play started, topping out with 24 points against San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament.
7. Detroit Pistons: Jared Sullinger
Jared Sullinger, Power Forward, Sophomore, Ohio State Buckeyes
After winning the James A. Naismith Award, given to the men's basketball player of the year, Jared Sullinger decided to return for another season and another shot at glory with Ohio State.
He doesn't have the upside of some of the players surrounding him, but you can't discount the 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game he averaged as a freshman.
8. Los Angeles Clippers: Marquis Teague
Marquis Teague: Point Guard, Freshman, Kentucky Wildcats
The younger brother of former Wake Forest standout and current Atlanta Hawks hope for the future Jeff Teague, Marquis Teague is an incoming freshman with the Kentucky Wildcats.
Teague has every skill you could ask for from a true point guard as his ball-handling skills and passing abilities are both impeccable for a player of his age and experience.
9. Charlotte Bobcats: Brad Beal
Brad Beal: Shooting Guard, Freshman, Florida Gators
A shooter first and foremost, Brad Beal has already been drawing comparisons to some guy named Ray Allen. You may have heard of him before.
Beal has range that can take him back well past NBA three-point territory, and he's quite adept at using screens and playing off the ball to get open.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Michael Gilchrist
Michael Gilchrist: Small Forward, Freshman, Kentucky Wildcats
Now here's our third Kentucky Wildcat of the mock draft.
A good all-around player, Gilchrist is known mostly for his leadership and athletic ability at this point. He's a tremendously hard worker who will stop at nothing to become as good as he can possibly be. Gilchrist may not have the upside of Marquis Teague or Anthony Davis, but he seems to be more of a sure thing.
11. Golden State Warriors: Adonis Thomas
Adonis Thomas: Small Forward, Freshman, Memphis Tigers
Besides laying claim to one of the coolest first names in this year's draft class, Adonis Thomas also possesses fantastic athletic ability, much like everyone else so far, it seems.
He'll need to improve his shooting, passing and ball-handling, but Thomas has the look of a future stud in the NBA.
12. Utah Jazz: Myck Kabongo
Myck Kabongo: Point Guard, Freshman, Texas Longhorns
If you thought that Adonis Thomas' name was awesome, it can't even hold a candle to Myck Kabongo's name. The Texas Longhorns' incoming freshman guard is the clear winner of the name contest.
Kabongo is an incredibly talented point guard with the potential to become the best freshman guard in the country. I suspect the threat of Kabongo in Austin, Texas was the real reason that Cory Joseph bolted early for the NBA.
13. Phoenix Suns: Austin Rivers
Austin Rivers: Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Freshman, Duke Blue Devils
It really wouldn't surprise me at all if Austin Rivers was the best player in the country next year. He's that good. He had to be since he's almost guaranteed to go one-and-done and Mike Krzyzewski almost never recruits players like that.
The son of current Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, Austin is basically good at everything on offense. He's also completely and utterly fearless on that end of the court.
14. Houston Rockets: Terrence Jones
Terrence Jones: Small Forward, Sophomore, Kentucky Wildcats
And Terrence Jones makes it four Wildcats in the mock draft so far!
Jones was fantastic for Kentucky last season, averaging 15.7 points, 1.6 assists and 8.8 rebounds per game as a freshman. If he could learn to do something other than go to his left every time, he'd be even more dominant on offense.
15. Indiana Pacers: Doron Lamb
Doron Lamb: Shooting Guard, Sophomore, Kentucky Wildcats
Now Doron Lamb makes it five for the Wildcats. There won't be any more, though.
Lamb didn't do too much during the postseason as a freshman, but during the regular season he played well enough to average 12.3 points, 1.6 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game.
With Brandon Knight out of the way, though, I'd expect for Lamb to receive far more opportunities to put the ball in the bucket.
16. Philadelphia 76ers: Terrence Ross
Terrence Ross: Shooting Guard/Small Forward, Sophomore, Washington Huskies
Terrence Ross was largely outshadowed by Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Isaiah Thomas (metaphorically and not physically here) during his freshman season with the Huskies, but he still averaged 8.0 points, 1.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game.
Ross showed flashes of greatness, though, and played quite well in four of his last five games, showing that his sophomore season could be quite impressive.
17. New York Knicks: Maalik Wayns
Maalik Wyans: Point Guard, Junior, Villanova Wildcats
Despite playing with Antonio Pena, Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes and the rest of the Villanova Wildcats' very talented team, Maalik Wyans still managed to average 14.9 points, 1.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore.
Now that he'll have more control of the team as a junior, expect for Wyans to become a star.
18. Atlanta Hawks: Khris Middleton
Khris Middleton: Shooting Guard/Small Forward, Junior, Texas A&M Aggies
Khris Middleton improved dramatically in between his freshman and sophomore seasons and appears to be poised to make another big leap in production going into his junior year with the Aggies.
Last season Middleton averaged 14.4 points, 2.8 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game.
19. Memphis Grizzlies: Kris Joseph
Kris Joseph: Small Forward, Senior, Syracuse Orange
A rare senior in this mock draft, Kris Joseph is set to put together a superb end to a very good career with the Syracuse Orange. If you're curious, he's not going directly behind Khris Middleton in this mock draft because he spells his first name with one less letter.
Joseph averaged 14.3 points, 2.2 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game with the Orange as a junior.
20. New Orleans Hornets: Kendall Marshall
Kendall Marshall: Point Guard, Sophomore, North Carolina Tar Heels
The third North Carolina player taken so far, Kendall Marshall's 6.2 assists per game as a freshman are deceptively low, despite the fact that they're already impressive enough.
Marshall didn't receive the starting job until late in the season and once he did, he never looked back, making tons of fantastic alley-oop passes as the Tar Heels hit their stride. His 16-assist game against Florida State may be the norm during the 2011-'12 season.
21. Portland Trail Blazers: John Henson
John Henson: Small Forward/Power Forward, Junior, North Carolina Tar Heels
Ring the Tar Heel alert bells for the fourth time!
John Henson averaged 11.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore, but the defensive end of the floor is where he's going to make his money.
Henson has tremendous length and timing, two facts that are rather evident when you look at his average of 3.2 blocks per game.
22. Denver Nuggets: C.J. Leslie
C.J. Leslie: Small Forward/Power Forward, Sophomore, North Carolina State Wolfpack
Highly recruited out of high school, C.J. Leslie wasn't too disappointing during his freshman season with the Wolfpack as he averaged 11.0 points, 0.8 assists and 7.2 rebounds per game.
Thanks to his athleticism, size and quickness, Leslie should be much improved during his second year at the collegiate level.
23. Orlando Magic: Thomas Robinson
Thomas Robinson: Power Forward, Junior, Kansas Jayhawks
With the Morris brothers out of the picture, Thomas Robinson is going to get a chance to shine for Bill Self's Kansas Jayhawks. Due both to the death of his mother and a misdemeanor battery charge, Robinson's sophomore season was very difficult, but he still managed to average 7.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
He'll have more minutes and a clearer mind this year, allowing him to finally put all his skills to good use on a consistent basis.
24. Boston Celtics: Mason Plumlee
Mason Plumlee: Power Forward/Center, Junior, Duke Blue Devils
One of not two, but three Plumlee brothers that will be attending Duke this next season, Mason Plumlee is the best prospect of them all for the 2012 NBA draft.
He averaged 7.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game as a sophomore, but was clearly getting better as the season went on.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tyler Zeller
Tyler Zeller: Power Forward/Center, Senior, North Carolina Tar Heels
The fifth and final North Carolina player in this mock draft, Tyler Zeller averaged 15.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as a junior for the Tar Heels.
With so much talent in place at North Carolina, he's never going to put up truly tremendous numbers, but NBA scouts are sure to see the potential just oozing out of his lanky 6'11" frame.
26. Dallas Mavericks: Trevor Mbakwe
Trevor Mbakwe: Power Forward, Senior, Minnesota Golden Gophers
Despite being arrested during the middle of his junior season, Trevor Mbakwe didn't miss any time at all and went on to post one of the better unknown seasons in the NCAA last year.
Mbakwe, a 6'8" forward for the Golden Gophers averaged 13.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, completing a triumphant return from a red-shirt year and a season in junior college. He'll only get better as a senior.
27. Los Angeles Lakers: John Jenkins
John Jenkins: Shooting Guard, Junior, Vanderbilt Commodores
The best way I can describe John Jenkins, who averaged 19.5 points, 1.2 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore is to give you a link to the article I wrote about him after he torched my Georgia Bulldogs in Athens for 21 points in a heartbreaking (for me at least) comeback win.
Read the following: Vanderbilt Commodores Star John Jenkins: Could He Be Stephen Curry 2.0?
28. Miami Heat: Festus Ezeli
Festus Ezeli: Center, Senior, Vanderbilt Commodores
Another Vanderbilt Commodore, Festus Ezeli is a big body that could fill that need for the Miami Heat if he pans out.
The Nigerian center took a huge step forward as a junior, averaging 13.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. He's still developing his post game and could take another leap forward.
29. San Antonio Spurs: JaMychal Green
JaMychal Green: Power Forward, Senior, Alabama Crimson Tide
With tremendous athleticism for a man his size and defensive ability to boot, JaMychal Green is one of the more underrated collegiate basketball players.
He deserved a lot more recognition than he got for helping to turn around Alabama's basketball program while averaging 15.5 points, 1.4 assists and 7.5 rebounds per game as a junior.
Green is still developing and could be a scary player for any SEC team to have to face during his senior season.
30. Chicago Bulls: William Buford
William Buford: Shooting Guard, Senior, Ohio State Buckeyes
Another need pick, the Chicago Bulls could finally get their coveted shooting guard here in the form of Ohio State Buckeye William Buford.
As a junior, Buford averaged 14.4 points, 2.9 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game, numbers that were all either the same or lower than his stats as a sophomore. This wasn't due to a decline in play, though, just a need to spread the ball around to the boatloads of talent rolling through Columbus last season.