With the 2012 NBA draft only hours away, there’s no time like the present to dive into my final mock draft of the season.
After Anthony Davis goes to New Orleans with the No. 1 pick, almost anything can happen as there are anywhere between six and 10 teams talking trade right now. If any deals go down in the early hours on Thursday, I will continue to update how it effects each and every team in the first round.
With that being said, let’s dive right into it as the New Orleans Hornets are now on the clock.
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
New Orleans lands the player who can make the biggest immediate impact in Davis. With his defensive ability, Davis is projected as a future All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year.
He’s a guard in a 6’11” power forward’s body, and while he needs to add muscle, Davis will be very good at both ends of the floor.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
Robinson is NBA-ready after a season in which he averaged 17.7 points per game and was second in the nation with 463 rebounds (11.9 per game).
Charlotte could trade this pick, but if they stay here, the Bobcats need to go with the guy who can help on the glass as well as score.
3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal, Florida
With the trade that brought them Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, the Wizards likely don’t need to draft Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, as they just added a pair of solid defensive players.
They 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, which could in turn cause them to field offers for this pick.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Ideally, the Cavs would probably like to move up to No. 2 to select Beal, but if they don’t, then the choice is between Barnes and Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Both would be a great fit, but the Cavs need a go-to scorer to pair with Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving, and Barnes could one day be a 20-point-per-game scorer in the NBA.
5. Sacramento Kings: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
MKG is a gift here for the Kings should they keep the pick.
Sacramento has a ton of guys who like to shoot the ball, but Kidd-Gilchrist can impact the game without ever needing to touch it. His tenacity on defense will earn him immediate minutes and help fix a Kings defense that allowed an NBA-worst 104.4 points per game.
He’s also a high-character player who will add toughness and a winning attitude to the locker room, something else Sacramento needs badly.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey Nets): Damian Lillard, Weber State
The Blazers need a point guard and a big man, and while Andre Drummond is an option, I love Lillard here for them.
He adds the dynamic backcourt scorer (24.5 PPG) that the Blazers need and brings a sense of toughness to the team. Lillard is a steady, athletic guard who can shoot the lights out and get to the rim.
Portland can take its chances on landing a big man later on.
7. Golden State Warriors: Andre Drummond, Connecticut
The Warriors could attempt to deal this pick for an established small forward, but if they don’t, it will be hard to pass on Drummond here.
They need a productive small forward, but with the top ones off the board, Drummond could be the young, productive big man they have needed for years.
It’s a roll of the dice, but it’s difficult to pass on someone with Drummond’s physical package and enormous upside.
8. Toronto Raptors: Dion Waiters, Syracuse
Toronto is another team that could trade out of this spot, but with Waiters’ stock rising in the fashion that it is, it’s hard to see him sliding past this spot.
He adds the ability to get to the rim from the guard position, which is something the Raptors need badly, as there is nothing but jump shooters on their roster right now.
Waiters is tough and adds scoring and projects to be a very good NBA combo guard.
9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson, North Carolina
The ACC Defensive Player of the Year is a good fit for a team looking for frontcourt help.
Henson can rebound (10.1 RPG) and block shots (2.9 BPG), which are qualities the Pistons need in a frontcourt guy to pair with Greg Monroe.
He also will make Detroit much more athletic, which is a must with this pick.
10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Austin Rivers, Duke
The Hornets can go multiple ways with this pick. They need help at the point, the wing and in the middle, and while Rivers solves none of those problems, he provides them with insurance in case restricted free agent Eric Gordon leaves.
Rivers is an intriguing prospect who many teams like and can add another scorer, long-range shooting and potential star power, all things the Hornets need badly.
Adding Davis and Rivers will make this a very good draft for New Orleans.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Meyers Leonard, Illinois
Portland lucks out and gets not only the point guard it needs, but a future big man as well.
Leonard led the Big Ten in blocked shots (1.9), and even though he is a raw talent, the NBA is always enamored with size. He had an outstanding combine, and his stock is way up. He could fill the need in the middle for the Blazers.
Leonard 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.
12. Houston Rockets (via Milwaukee Bucks): Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
I highly doubt this is Houston’s pick come draft day, but for now, the ACC Player of the Year can add the size and athleticism in the middle that the Rockets need. Zeller averaged 16.3 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game for North Carolina during his senior season and while he won’t likely approach those numbers, he can be productive in the NBA.
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.
Houston needs a center, and Zeller could become a pretty good one.
13. Phoenix Suns: Terrence Ross, Washington
Ross 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.
He has great size for a 2-guard at 6’6” and can do anything on the floor very well. The Suns need backcourt depth, and they get a real good player here.
The Suns need backcourt production, especially if Steve Nash leaves, and the long-range shooting ability of Ross combined with his elite athleticism will be a nice fit in the Phoenix backcourt for a long time.
14. Milwaukee Bucks (via Houston Rockets): Perry Jones III, Baylor
The Bucks moved down two spots and added Samuel Dalembert in the process so I expect them to add some production from the wing with this pick.
I love taking a chance on the potential of Jones this late. He has simply too much raw talent to slide any further. He runs like a deer and can jump through the gym, but the dominant production hasn’t come out consistently like his skill set would suggest it should.
On talent alone Jones is a top three pick. If he ever lives up to that talent, he will be an NBA star.
He’s super athletic, but there are questions about his motor. Eventually, the rewards will outweigh the risks, and Jones has too much talent to not roll the dice on this late.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
Lamb is young but has a ton of upside and could be a steal at No. 15 for the Sixers.
They need 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.
16. Houston Rockets (via New York Knicks): Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
Moultrie has a high motor, and he produces (16.4 PPG, 10.5 RPG).
He’s big and strong enough to play either the 4 or the 5, but he 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, shooting 55 percent from the floor and 44 percent from behind the arc on the season.
If Houston keeps these picks somehow, they stand to get much more athletic almost overnight.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
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).
He’s an 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 and not a lot of players can say that. Even if Dallas feels they can sign Deron Williams, I still find it very hard for them to pass on a pure floor general such as Marshall.
18. Houston Rockets (via Utah Jazz through Minnesota Timberwolves): Moe Harkless, St. John’s
Houston just acquired this pick from Minnesota, and while I highly doubt it will be drafting here by draft night, if it does, then it can’t hurt to take the best available player.
The Rockets get frontcourt help with Jones and Moultrie and can continue to get more athletic with Harkless.
Even though they need backcourt depth, Harkless has the potential and upside to be a star. I love any team getting him this late.
19. Orlando Magic: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
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.
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
Jones is a guy that can add depth to the already deep Nuggets.
He 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.
In addition, Jones is a great athlete, so George Karl’s up-tempo attack won’t be a problem. He also averaged 1.8 blocked shots and 1.3 steals for Kentucky, so his defensive ability could earn him immediate playing time.
21. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
I still love Nicholson here for the Celtics, but he’s also a guy that I can see rising up the board before draft day. Nicholson has the ability to stretch the floor, averaging 18.5 points per game, shooting 57 percent from the floor and 43 percent from behind the arc.
There’s not much on the floor that he doesn’t do well and 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
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 can score (13.4 PPG) and rebound (9.3 RPG), but while he stands 6’9”, White sees the floor like a guard. His 5.0 assists per game led the Iowa State team and actually 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
Atlanta will have to be patient with Miller, as he’s not NBA-ready right now.
But there’s no debating that his raw ability and huge upside are worth the risk this late. Down the road, Miller could have the ability to be a top scoring option for the Hawks.
A couple years from now he could look like a steal at No. 23.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Fab Melo, Syracuse
Melo 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.
But he has nothing that resembles a post game and has a very low basketball IQ. He won’t score with his back to the basket, instead getting a few dunks and put-backs.
With the Cavs in need of size, he’s worth a roll of the dice this late.
Melo has potential, but he has a long way to go before he makes himself a quality NBA big man. But NBA general managers love size, and Melo has that.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Wroten, Washington
Memphis will have to take its 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 and learn to value the basketball.
It doesn’t help that he developed a reputation for being a bad teammate, which is something else he must shake.
26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague, Kentucky
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 to be refined.
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 that ultimately could lead to them shopping Darren Collison.
27. Miami Heat: Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt
Taylor is an outstanding perimeter defender and has range on his jumper, knocking down 42 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.
In addition to being one of the better defenders in the draft, Taylor gives the NBA champs another elite athlete.
There could be minutes available as a rookie, depending on what happens with Mike Miller and his bad back.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green, Michigan State
Green does a little bit of everything and does it all very well. He makes his teammates better and will be a good asset coming off the bench in Oklahoma City, who is just really drafting for depth here.
He’s a smart and tough player who can come in and fill a need immediately for the Thunder and can be 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 3’s. But he is a guy who knows how to play the game and finds a way to produce. I would expect nothing less of him in the NBA.
29. Chicago Bulls: Will Barton, Memphis
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.
In addition, he gives the Bulls another scoring option next to Derrick Rose, which they badly need.
30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio Spurs): John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
Jenkins has unlimited range, a lightning-quick release and could provide some secondary scoring in Golden State.
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.
Second Round Projections
31. Charlotte Bobcats: Kim English, Missouri
32. Washington Wizards: Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
33. Cleveland Cavaliers: Evan Fournier, France
34. Cleveland Cavaliers: Doron Lamb, Kentucky
35. Golden State Warriors: Scott Machado, Iona
36. Sacramento Kings: Kyle O’Quinn, Norfolk State
37. Toronto Raptors: Kostas Papanikolaou, Greece
38. Denver Nuggets: Miles Plumlee, Duke
39. Detroit Pistons: Jared Cunningham, Oregon State
40. Portland Trail Blazers: Orlando Johnson, UC-Santa Barbara
41. Portland Trail Blazers: Mike Scott, Virginia
42. Milwaukee Bucks: Tomas Satoransky, Czech Republic
43. Atlanta Hawks: Furkan Aldemir, Turkey
44. Detroit Pistons: Darius Miller, Kentucky
45. Philadelphia 76ers: Kevin Murphy, Tennessee Tech
46. New Orleans Hornets: Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas
47. Utah Jazz: Robbie Hummel, Purdue
48. New York Knicks: Jae Crowder, Marquette
49. Orlando Magic: Chris Johnson, Dayton
50. Denver Nuggets: Benard James, Florida State
51. Boston Celtics: Justin Hamilton, LSU
52. Golden State Warriors: Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette
53. Los Angeles Clippers: Quincy Acy, Baylor
54. Philadelphia 76ers: Kevin Jones, West Virginia
55. Dallas Mavericks: Hollis Thompson, Georgetown
56. Toronto Raptors: Kris Middleton, Texas A&M
57. Brooklyn Nets: Drew Gordon, New Mexico
58. Minnesota Timberwolves: Alex Young, IUPUI
59. San Antonio Spurs: William Buford, Ohio State
60. Los Angles Lakers: Kris Joseph, Syracuse
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