2012 NBA Mock Draft: Latest Predictions for the 1st Round

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2012

GAINESVILLE, FL -  NOVEMBER 11:  Guard Bradley Beal #23 of the Florida Gators listens to coach Billy Donovan during play against the Jackson State Tigers November 11, 2011 at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

There are still plenty of games to be played in this year's NBA playoffs, but that doesn't mean that fans of every team aren't still excited about the upcoming NBA draft.

It's fair to say that there are some differing opinions on this year's draft class, but there is unquestionably some elite talent at the top as well as the potential for plenty of other players to become important contributors.

With that said, every team will have a legitimate opportunity to get better.

The following is a full, first-round mock draft complete with my latest predictions (in Italics) for what moves every first-round team will make.

*Draft order is based on regular-season standings and projected playoff results.

1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis, F (Kentucky)

The Bobcats' brass will bring every lucky charm it can possibly think of to the draft lottery in hopes of landing the top pick and selecting Davis.

2. Washington Wizards: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F (Kentucky)

There has been some debate as to who might go No. 2, but with John Wall already in place, the Wizards would love a do-everything forward like Kidd-Gilchrist.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, G (Florida)

It looked like it was going to be a long climb back to the top for the Cleveland Cavaliers after losing LeBron James in free agency, but they made some good strides this season, as No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving was even better than advertised.

The Cavs are likely only a couple players away from being contenders in the Eastern Conference again, and they'll aim to get another piece in this draft.

The Cavs can honestly afford to address any position other than shooting guard, and while they'll have a tough choice at this spot, the best fit for them is Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal. The 6'3", 207-pound dynamo was spectacular in his one and only collegiate season, averaging nearly 15 points and seven rebounds per game. He also made almost two trifectas per contest as well.

Cleveland could use some help on the interior, but a backcourt combination of Beal and Irving can run roughshod over the NBA for the next decade.

I believe that will be something that is too good for the Cavaliers to pass up.

4. New Orleans Hornets: Thomas Robinson, F (Kansas)

There isn't a point guard worth taking at this spot, but the Hornets will be glad to take Robinson since he was the driving force behind Kansas' run to the National Championship Game.

5. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, C (Connecticut)

The Kings already have one of the better young inside-out tandems in the league in DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans. Drummond will add yet another interior presence.

6. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey): Kendall Marshall, G (North Carolina)

There aren't many mocks that have Marshall being taken this high, but he is clearly the best true point guard in the draft, and the Blazers need one like it's nobody's business.

7. Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes, F (North Carolina)

The Warriors already have a great combo inside with Andrew Bogut and David Lee as well as an elite scoring guard in Stephen Curry.

They'll take the draft's top wing player.

8. Toronto Raptors: Jeremy Lamb, G (Connecticut)

Toronto is a team that simply needs players who can score the basketball at this point, and since Lamb may be the best shooter in the draft, he's a great fit.

9. Detroit Pistons: Perry Jones III, F (Baylor)

The Pistons got their rebuild off to a nice start in last year's draft by taking point guard Brandon Knight, and they'll get him an option to pass to inside in the form of Jones.

10. New Orleans Hornets (via MIN): Damian Lillard, G (Weber State)

He certainly doesn't have the same playmaking abilities as Chris Paul, but Lillard is a shoot-first point guard who can light up the scoreboard when he gets hot.

11. Portland Trail Blazers: Jared Sullinger, F/C (Ohio State)

This season was a very disappointing one for the Portland Trail Blazers, as they surprisingly missed the playoffs. But with talented players like LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, as well as two high picks, they aren't far away from being a force to be reckoned with once again.

I already have them addressing their most pressing need at point guard earlier in the draft, so the Blazers will have some options at No. 11. They have plenty of wing players, and although they have some good depth inside as well with Aldridge, they could use a true center.

At 6'9", Ohio State center Jared Sullinger may be viewed as a bit undersized for the position, but his 280-pound frame will allow him to out-muscle a lot of players at the next level.

Sullinger was a dominant force with the Buckeyes, averaging almost 18 points and nine rebounds per game, and the Blazers would love to have a guy like him to pair with Aldridge. If Portland decides to take Sullinger, then it may have one of the best offensive interior combos in the league.

12. Milwaukee Bucks: Meyers Leonard, C (Illinois)

He doesn't have the same skill set as Andrew Bogut, but the 7'0" Leonard is probably the best true center in the draft in terms of potential.

13. Phoenix Suns: Austin Rivers, G (Duke)

The Suns would probably like to grab a point guard to replace free agent Steve Nash, but with none worth taking available, Rivers is the next best thing.

14. Houston Rockets: Tyler Zeller, F/C (North Carolina)

Houston continues to look for a long-term replacement for Yao Ming, and while Zeller won't be anywhere near that level, he brings a good offensive game to the center position.

15. Philadelphia 76ers: John Henson, F (North Carolina)

The 76ers have certainly overachieved this season, but unless they get a guy like Henson to replace the aging Elton Brand, their potential will be capped next year.

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

It's true that the Rockets have quite a bit of depth at every position, but they would love to get a guy like Jones, who can fill in for Luis Scola and perhaps even play some small forward as well.

17. Dallas Mavericks: Arnett Moultrie, F (Mississippi State)

It took him quite a while to develop at the collegiate level, but Moultrie has all the physical tools you look for in an interior player and will bring a nice contrast of styles to Dirk Nowitzki.

18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah): Terrence Ross, G (Washington)

The Timberwolves are oozing with young talent at forward and point guard, but the shooting guard position is pretty barren.

Ross is the logical pick.

19. Orlando Magic: Doron Lamb, G (Kentucky)

Regardless of whether or not they keep Dwight Howard, the Magic need an infusion of talent, and Lamb is the type of offensive star who could play and thrive right away.

20. Denver Nuggets: Dion Waiters, G (Syracuse)

The Nuggets won't be getting a superstar with this pick, but they'll be happy to add even more depth to their squad with a dangerous combo guard in Waiters.

 21. Boston Celtics: Moe Harkless, F (St. John’s)

Unfortunately, Paul Pierce isn't going to be around forever, so the Celtics had better start preparing for life after The Truth by selecting Harkless.

22. Boston Celtics (via L.A. Clippers): Fab Melo, C (Syracuse)

Center has been a major issue for the Celtics ever since the ill-advised trade of Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Perhaps Melo can replace some of the defensive presence that was lost.

23. Atlanta Hawks: Royce White, F (Iowa State)

Josh Smith isn't likely to be with the Hawks for much longer, but perhaps taking a player like White can help to ease the pain a bit.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via L.A. Lakers): Andrew Nicholson, F (St. Bonaventure)

The Cavs could really use an interior presence to complement Kyrie Irving and Bradley Beal, and Nicholson is a guy who can do a little bit of everything from the power forward position.

25. Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Wroten, G (Washington)

The one position where the Grizzlies are lacking is at shooting guard, as O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen are both one-dimensional.

Wroten brings a complete skill set to the table.

26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague, G (Kentucky)

Indiana already has some pretty good depth at point guard with Darren Collison and George Hill, but Teague is just too valuable to pass up here.

27. Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins, G (Vanderbilt)

Getting point guard Derrick Rose healthy will be the top priority for the Bulls, but next on the list is getting him a backcourt mate like Jenkins, who can score the basketball.

28. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio): William Buford, G (Ohio State)

The Warriors roster certainly seems to be coming together, and Buford is the type of versatile shooting guard who could mesh well with Stephen Curry.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Festus Ezeli, C (Vanderbilt)

Ezeli would be more of a bench big with the Thunder, but both Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka need their rest, so Ezeli would see some action right away.

30. Miami Heat: Draymond Green, F (Michigan State)

I fully expect the Miami Heat to win the NBA championship with the Chicago Bulls now out of their way, and if that does come to fruition, then they obviously won't have to add much in the draft.

The Heat already have the star triumvirate of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as well as a few solid veterans off the bench to boot.

Their biggest weakness is obviously at center, but with Ezeli going a pick before them, the Heat would be wise to go in a different direction.

You can never really go wrong by adding a proven winner with a versatile skill set, and that perfectly describes Michigan State forward Draymond Green. At 6'7" and 230 pounds, Green has the passing skills of a point guard, and I have to believe that would play well in Miami's system.

Green is the type of guy who could step onto a winning team and fit in right away. Plus, he has exactly the type of attitude that the Heat would love to have on the team. Green's game may not completely translate to the NBA, but he'll be a valuable role-player in due time.

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