2012 NBA Mock Draft: Projecting Where Instant-Impact Prospects Will Land

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IMay 5, 2012

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 24:  Dion Waiters #3 of the Syracuse Orange reacts after a basket against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball East Regional Final at TD Garden on March 24, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The 2012 NBA draft is less than two months away, and that means it's time to start forecasting the first round.

With a plethora of prospects available for the taking, only a few are capable of providing an instant impact as a rookie. 

Join Bleacher Report as we delve deeper into some of the 2012 first-round prospects.

With the NBA playoffs in full gear and much of the first-round positioning still up in the air, here is what the first 30 picks could very well look like if things play out the way the numbers suggest:

1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis, Kentucky

LEXINGTON, KY - APRIL 17:  Anthony Davis talks with the media during the news conference in which he announced he will enter the NBA draft at Joe Craft Center on April 17, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

There is no doubt that Anthony Davis will make an instant impact next season for whatever team he winds up with. He averaged 4.7 blocks in his lone season at Kentucky, and carried the Wildcats to their first NCAA championship since 1998 last April.

Davis' length at 6'10" with a 7'4" wingspan makes him virtually impossible to avoid at the rim. While his offensive game is still developing and rather raw, his defense and energy will have him in the Rookie of the Year conversation and eventually in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year.

2. Washington Wizards: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky

The Washington Wizards would love to pick second this June, especially considering that Anthony Davis' former teammate in Lexington, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, is available. Kidd-Gilchrist attacks the rim with no fear and would be a key young piece to the Wizards' rebuilding effort. 

3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, Florida 

Although Bradley Beal won't draw any LeBron James comparisons this summer, he certainly could team up with gifted point guard Kyrie Irving in the Cavaliers' backcourt to form a dynamic duo of sorts. 

4. New Orleans Hornets: Thomas Robinson, Kansas

Former Kansas Jayhawks Thomas Robinson is a lock to go in the top five because of rebounding prowess (11.9 RPG last season with Kansas) and explosiveness. 

5. Sacramento Kings: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 24:  Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates after defeating the Syracuse Orange during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball East Regional Final at TD Garden on March 24, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/G
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Jared Sullinger boasts a low-post ability that is rarely seen in today's game. With a wide body capable of sealing off big defenders, Sullinger will be a high basketball IQ guy who earns his time in the league.

6. Portland Trail Blazers (via Brooklyn Nets): Andre Drummond, Connecticut

Ever since the Greg Oden pick went bad, the Portland Trail Blazers have been searching for a long-term prospect at center. Marcus Camby came and went, and LaMarcus Aldridge functions best as a true power forward. Enter UConn's unproven Andre Drummond. 

7. Golden State Warriors: Perry Jones III, Baylor

Perry Jones III is a dicey pick for the Golden State Warriors at No. 7. Jones can disappear at times and produce a head-scratching stat sheet. He only shot 50 percent from the field last season with Baylor, which is disappointing for a 6'11" power forward likely benefiting from a size advantage on almost every night in college basketball. 

8. Toronto Raptors: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina

Harrison Barnes definitely did a number on his draft stock with his poor play during the 2012 NCAA tournament, but NBA scouts like when they see a player with size demonstrate the ability to shoot and elevate.

9. Detroit Pistons: Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State

Just think of Mississippi State's Arnett Moultrie as the poor man's Perry Jones III. He has great length as a 6'11" power forward, and can leap out of the gym. 

10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Kendall Marshall, North Carolina

Fans and scouts got a glimpse of just how critical Kendall Marshall's steady hand was to the Tar Heels' success last season, when he went down with a wrist injury in the midst of North Carolina's NCAA tourney run. 

11. Portland Trail Blazers: Austin Rivers, Duke

Although Austin Rivers' style of game makes him an easy target for critical fans and scouts, it also makes him one of the more instant-impact prospects available in 2012. Rivers averaged 15.5 points per game last season with Duke as a freshman, and demonstrated invaluable leadership along the way.

He certainly must become more unselfish if he is to taste success at the next level, but all of the physical abilities are there, as well as the desire to be great. 

12. Milwaukee Bucks: Tyler Zeller, North Carolina

Without question, the best seven-footer available this June is Tyler Zeller, who played four years at North Carolina under Roy Williams. Zeller is a smart player with phenomenal athleticism and floor-running ability. 

13. Phoenix Suns: Damian Lillard, Weber State

The Phoenix Suns will likely brace themselves for the inevitable departure of Steve Nash by drafting an excellent point guard with tremendous potential. Weber State's Damian Lillard will make an impact immediately as one of the more explosive floor generals available this summer.

Lillard is super speedy, he can penetrate defenses and, of course, he can shoot the ball with great touch and excellent range. Though Lillard lacks the court vision of one Steve Nash, he will have plenty of time to develop his passing prowess with no other real contender for the starting PG spot in Phoenix out there.

14. Houston Rockets: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut

Jeremy Lamb looks to be the perfect prospect for a young and coming Houston Rockets squad that already boasts youthful, athletic studs like Goran Dragic, Chandler Parsons, Chase Budinger and Courtney Lee.

15. Philadelphia 76ers: John Henson, North Carolina

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 25:  John Henson #31 of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks to pass as he is defended by Kevin Young #40 of the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Midwest Regional Final at Edward Jones Dome on March 25, 2012 in St L
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

John Henson must add some meat if he is to survive in the paint at the NBA level, but there is little doubt that he won't, especially as a potential lottery pick. Henson averaged 13.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game last season for UNC as a junior. 

16. Houston Rockets (via New York Knicks): Terrence Jones, Kentucky

If Terrence Jones can hang around long enough for Houston to snag him in the mid-first round, the Rockets would be legitimate contenders to the crown next season in the Western Conference. 

17. Dallas Mavericks: Terrence Ross, Washington

A 6'6" shooting guard out of Portland, Oregon, Terrence Ross averaged 16.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season with the Washington Huskies en route to boosting his draft stock considerably. You bet the Mavericks could use that sort of athleticism and production if they are to get back to the top of the NBA mountain. 

18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah Jazz): Meyers Leonard, Illinois

Anyone who watched Meyers Leonard play at Illinois during this two seasons with the Fighting Illini saw a very raw player with all sorts of potential. The seven-foot center can do almost everything you can ask of a big man, but his focus can stray from the game at times. 

19. Orlando Magic: Quincy Miller, Baylor

A 6'9" small forward with awesome inside and outside skills, former Baylor Bear Quincy Miller is a sure-fire first-rounder with the potential to become a starter relatively soon in the NBA.

20. Denver Nuggets: Dion Waiters, Syracuse

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 24:  Dion Waiters #3 of the Syracuse Orange goes to the hoop against Sam Thompson #12 and Deshaun Thomas #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball East Regional Final at TD Garden on March 24, 2012 in Boston, M
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Dion Waiters' slashing ability and consistent energy will go a long way in the NBA. He fits perfectly with the Denver Nuggets, and would make them an even deeper squad in 2012-13. Waiters averaged 12.6 points per game last season with the Syracuse Orange, but it was his game-changing intensity that often lifted his teammates and led Syracuse to unforeseen success.

Waiters will only get better with more playing time and more time to develop his game as a professional who lives basketball. He can play on my team any day.

21. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure

Who knows, maybe St. Bonaventure's Andrew Nicholson is Kevin Garnett's long-term replacement at power forward for the Boston Celtics. At 6'9", Nicholson can defend and rebound with anyone in the country. 

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

If any head coach can get the most out of Royce White and keep him level-headed at the same time, it's Doc Rivers. The Boston Celtics have an excellent group of veterans in place to show the younger guys how it's done. 

23. Atlanta Hawks: Doron Lamb, Kentucky

Doron Lamb is a solid long-range shooter and could bring some additional floor-spacing to the Atlanta Hawks next season. He shot nearly 47 percent from beyond the arc last season with Kentucky, and almost 49 percent from deep in his freshman year with the Wildcats.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Moe Harkless, St. John's

Moe Harkless averaged an impressive 15.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game last season with St. John's. That production is more than worthy of a first-round selection. 

25. Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Wroten Jr., Washington

You can't teach court vision, and that's exactly what Washington's Tony Wroten Jr. has. The freshman had a breakout season with the Huskies last year, averaging 16 points, five rebounds and 3.7 assists in 35 total games. 

26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague, Kentucky

The Pacers could benefit from having a change-of-pace point guard option to bring off the bench next season. Depending on how far Indiana goes this postseason may very well dictate what route they take in late June. 

27. Miami Heat: Fab Melo, Syracuse

Fab Melo's shot-blocking strengths make him an interesting late first-round prospect. The Miami Heat may be championship bound in 2013 if they can acquire a game-changing interior defender like Melo this summer. 

28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green, Michigan State

Based on the success of sixth man James Harden in Oklahoma City, the Thunder would be smart to draft a high basketball IQ, playmaking prospect in Michigan State's Draymond Green. Green averaged 16.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists last season with Tom Izzo's Spartans as a unique, 6'6" point forward.

29. Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt

Look for the Chicago Bulls to continue their front-office strategy of surrounding playmaker Derrick Rose with knock-down shooters. Vanderbilt's John Jenkins has range for days and one of the quickest releases in basketball.

30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio Spurs): Scott Machado, Iona

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 13:  Scott Machado #3 of the Iona Gaels drives on Craig Cusick #2 of the Brigham Young Cougars in the second half in the first round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at UD Arena on March 13, 2012 in Dayton, Ohio.  (Photo by
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

A four-year starter in college basketball, Iona's Scott Machado has the ability to become one of the better late first-round draft picks in recent times. Machado racked up assists last season, averaging 9.9 per game as a senior.

Machado also shot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc last season, averaging 13.6 points and 4.9 rebounds along the way. His speed and ability to deliver the ball where his teammates can do something with it will make him one of 2012's first-round steals.

Follow Patrick Clarke on Twitter for more on the 2012 NBA draft. 

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