13 June 2012

2012 NBA Mock Draft: 4th Edition

Nothing like a little bit of back-and-forth somewhat between two top five prospects. After presumptive top pick Anthony Davis showed up at media availability at the NBA Draft Combine rocking the above shirt, saying "Check my stats," Thomas Robinson said that if "this is about stats, I'm the top pick" as well that he has "got to get one of those shirts." OK then. Here's my fourth mock draft.

1. New Orleans Hornets - Anthony Davis, PF/C, Kentucky

Regardless of whether the lottery was rigged or not, the Hornets are going to take Davis and he fills a big need in the frontcourt. Davis was six feet tall only a few years ago and while he has grown to be 6'10" he still moves around like a guard and has a pretty solid shot. He has been the best defensive player on the collegiate hoops scene in a long time as he only set the season record for blocks in a season. He is so long and once he fills into his body and puts on some more weight, watch out. He looks like a star.

2. Charlotte Bobcats - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
There are so many things that the Bobcats need, as you would expect from the worst team in league history. I have no confidence that owner Michael Jordan has any idea of what he is doing and that he is willing to invest the time, energy and most importantly, the money to turn this franchise around. That said, what this team needs is a real infusion of talent and they have to take the best player on the board, regardless of position and the best guy on the board not named Anthony Davis is his teammate, Kidd-Gilchrist. If only Kidd-Gilchrist was strong with his three-point shot, he'd be a legitimate contender with Davis to be the top overall pick. The Jersey native is a natural leader and has great character. He's a tremendous defender and can guard multiple positions, is very athletic, is a great rebounder and can get to the hoop with authority.

3. Washington Wizards - Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Among the many things that the Wizards did poorly this season, shooting the three pointer was one of the weaker parts of their club. They were third worst in the league from beyond the arc. Plus they also have a hole at shooting guard with only one player under contract for next season at the position in Chris Singleton so taking Beal, who Chad Ford likens to a cross between Ray Allen and Eric Gordon, would be a wise pick. Beal is supremely talented offensively. His jump shot is outstanding and he is very good at attacking the rim and finishing at the basket, despite his mediocre size for a shooting guard (6'4"). Beal is also solid defensively and is an underrated rebounder for someone of his size.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers - Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
The Cavaliers have some promise, even though their record was once again bad this season. Kyrie Irving looks like a star and while Tristan Thompson was taken too high, he looks to be a solid contributor. One place that the Cavs still are really weak is on the wings, where they have sent out all kinds of crap at shooting guard and small forward the last couple of years. Barnes could have been the top pick in last year's draft, returned to school and had a really good year but sucked in the tournament. But his talent is too much to ignore here and has a complete package offensively as he has a great shot and is great at getting to the hoop. He also works hard and has quality character.

5. Sacramento Kings - Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
I know that I stated in my last mock that Robinson does not fill a need for the Kings but ultimately, he is the best player on the board and could make for an undersized yet potent frontcourt with Robinson and DeMarcus Cousins as it appears that Sacramento will not take Andre Drummond.  Robinson has the tools you want out of an ideal power forward and he really carried the Jayhawks at times this season. He is athletic, can rebound really well down in the paint and has a very good inside/outside game, although he could use some more work on his jumper.

6. Portland Trail Blazers - Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
It's hard to look back and say that the Gerald Wallace trade was a good one for the Nets. A team that desperately needs piece to try and keep Deron Williams in town really overpays for a guy in Gerald Wallace that Portland would have been content with a mid-first pick, that probably does not have much great years left and could very well leave in free agency. Billy King, what a brilliant GM.
The Blazers really need to find themselves a center as they need to find more protection for LaMarcus Aldridge down low and they may be willing to take the risks that Drummond brings. Drummond has great size, strength and athleticism and is a game changer defensively in the paint but he is very raw, particularly on offense. He is not ready at all to play right away but the talent is there to be a star. The question is does he have the drive to be a star as he looked like he wasn't giving it his all this season in Storrs.

7. Golden State Warriors Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
Everybody and their mother knew that Golden State was tanking to be able to keep this pick, which would have gone to Utah had it fallen out of the top seven, and the Monta Ellis/Andrew Bogut deal with Milwaukee made it obvious so I guess Mission Accomplished for the folks out by the bay. The Warriors are pretty soft up front as David Lee doesn't play defense and Bogut has injury troubles so I think they will use this selection for some depth and toughness inside. Sullinger is one of my favorite players because he just loves to get physical in the paint and he's very skilled on both sides of the court inside, especially on offense where he has got some really good post moves. The question I have with him, however, is that he is not particularly athletic.

8. Toronto Raptors - Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
Really think that the Raptors are hoping that Barnes falls to them due to their big need at small forward so in the scenario of this mock, Toronto would look to upgrade its mediocre perimeter shooting as they were in the bottom half of the league in three point shooting, as well as get some depth for DeMar DeRozan. Lamb is tremendous shooting from the perimeter, although he can be streaky at times, and he can also drive and attack the hoop. He really needs to focus and work on his defensive game, however, but fortunately Dwayne Casey is one of the top defensive coaches in the game.

9. Detroit Pistons - John Henson, PF, North Carolina
The Pistons are a team that if they make the right moves in the offseason, they could conceivably make the playoffs next season. One thing they really need is a strong defender in the paint, one that could take some pressure off of Greg Monroe as Detroit didn't get much from the power forward spot last year, even though Jonas Jerebko is a solid contributor. Henson should've probably return to school because he really needs to grow physically as he is very light. He is a tremendous athlete and a gifted shot blocker but he needs work on his offensive game.

10. New Orleans Hornets Damion Lillard, PG, Weber State
The key piece in the haul the Hornets got for Chris Paul was obviously Eric Gordon but he is a restricted free agent this offseason who could very well leave, but having Anthony Davis in town could very well entice Gordon to stay in town. Regardless, the Hornets could use some more pop in their backcourt off the bench. Lillard is not a true guard as he is more of a scorer first rather, the prototypical combo guard, if you will. He is really good shooting from the outside who can shoot from far outside and is confident. New Orleans was 22nd in three point percentage so Lillard should help improve their shooting right away.

11. Portland Trail Blazers - Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
Portland should look to find a point guard in this draft, even after they used their first round selection a year ago on Nolan Smith, who really did not play much. Ray Felton is 28 but he didn't have a great year in 2011-12 plus he is also a free agent. Now I think this is a little early for Marshall but he is, in my opinion, the top true point guard in this draft. His defense is average and he can't really do too much offensively but boy is he brilliant running the point. He has great vision and is a tremendous passer and most importantly for a point, he's unselfish.

12. Milwaukee Bucks - Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
The Bucks made a great move in acquiring Monta Ellis and Epke Udoh in exchange for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson but the problem is that they have a hole at center and they have been trying to fill it with power forwards. And even when Bogut was in town, they needed a better backup plan because of how frequently injured he was. Leonard has great size, athleticism and length and can shot block very well but he is also very raw. He is said to have a lot of potential but needs a quality big man coach to help him develop his game.

13. Phoenix Suns - Dion Waiters, G, Syracuse
The Suns scored a ton of points, as usual, last season but they did not get great play from the two guard spot. Plus most of their wingmen are free agents this offseason, leaving only Jared Dudley and Josh Childress under contract at the wing. Waiters is similar to Rodney Stuckey in that he's a combo guard due to his size but his scoring ability makes him a two. He can play point guard if necessary to help fill the void left by Steve Nash.

14. Houston Rockets - Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
You know if David Stern had not interfered with the original Chris Paul trade, Nene would probably be a Rocket right now. Now the team has no long term answer at center and they need to draft someone to help fill the Yao void. Zeller needs to get stronger so he doesn't get bullied inside and be more physical but he is pretty skilled for a seven footer as he scores very well in the paint plus he can run the floor well for a big man.

15. Philadelphia 76ers - Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky
Philly taking Jones would make sense in multiple regards. He could help replace Elton Brand, who is coming off the worst year of his career and is also 33. He could help replace Andre Igoudala, if he is traded to help bring in either a top scorer or a quality center. Plus he would also bring some much needed variety to the 76ers' stagnant offense. Jones has tremendous talent who has a great inside/outside game and an NBA ready body with quality athleticism. He needs strong coaching though as he can be selfish at times and does disappear occasionally, as anybody who watched Kentucky at length this season can attest to.

16. Houston Rockets Moe Harkless, SF, St. John's
The Rockers do not have a bad roster and their backcourt is rather good, in my opinion, but the biggest hole on the roster, besides at center, is at small forward, where the team lacks a consistent weapon. Harkless is very athletic and versatile who can attack the hoop very well and slash. He has a very good jump shot, even as his three point shot is inconsistent. What I love about Harkless is that he is very active on defense as well as being aggressive fighting for rebounds.

17. Dallas Mavericks - Perry Jones, PF, Baylor
You really could never have too many big men in this league and I think that Mark Cuban and co. would take a risk on one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in the draft in Jones. Nobody will deny Jones's potential thanks to his incredible length and athleticism but he did not put it all together that often down in Waco. Jones needs to work on his all-around game and thus allowing him to sit and not get major minutes right away is a smart idea.

18. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Utah) - Terrence Ross, SG, Washington
Minnesota was extremely exciting to watch early in the season as Kevin Love was playing great and Ricky Rubio was brilliant running the point, until he got injured and was lost for the season. But they took a major step forward and they need to address the hole at shooting guard, as neither Wayne Ellington nor Martell Webster are really any good, plus could use another potent threeballer. Ross is a very good three point shooter and is also athletic with quality length. His size is ideal for that of a shooting guard and he can post up smaller guys plus he can block shots somewhat.

19. Orlando Magic - Tony Wroten, PG, Washington
The Magic really need to build up the supporting cast to keep Dwight Howard happy to convince to stay long-term in Central Florida. One way they can do that is to take a point guard and groom him behind Jameer Nelson, who is due to be a free agent after next season. Wroten is a big point guard who is athletic and sees the floor pretty well and his strength is slashing to the basket. If he works on his outside shot and his decision making, he can develop into the best point guard in this class, as Chad Ford compared him to Rajon Rondo when the latter was coming out of college, and we all remember how raw he was.

20. Denver Nuggets Royce White, F, Iowa State

Denver has themselves a pretty deep team but one that does have some injury woes. They should look to add some depth in the frontcourt at both forward positions. White does have some character questions regarding his arrest when he was a freshman at Minnesota but he is a talent. He is an undersized four, but can also play the three, but he is very physical in the paint due to his strength and he's a very good rebounder. He has no perimeter game nor much of a shot but he handles the ball very well does have a good low post game and is a quality passer. I really like him.

21. Boston Celtics Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State
Kevin Garnett may be ageless, but even he will not be around for ever. Fortunately the team swung a brilliant deal for Brendon Bass in exchange for Glen Davis but they could still use some depth up front. Moultrie is big and athletic, was a consistent double-double threat in Starkville and showed a great ability on the boards, especially on the offensive boards which is very important. He also has a solid offensive game in the paint but not very much range. If he can develop some range on his jump shot, he'll be very good.

22. Boston Celtics (from Clippers via Oklahoma City) - Austin Rivers, G, Duke
Does anybody think that if Austin Rivers was on the board when the Celtics are selecting that they wouldn't take Doc Rivers' kid? The Celtics really need a scorer off the bench and thus taking a talent like Rivers, who is coming out too early, makes sense considering he won't be pressed into major minutes right away. Rivers is small for a two but his play makes him better suited to be a shooting guard. His offensive game is so good, he can shoot from the parking lot and he can get to the rim really well. He's got cojones to take the last shot as well. Still think he is coming out too early though and another year of college would have helped him a lot.

23. Atlanta Hawks Jeffrey Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt
The Hawks have a pretty crappy bench that will probably look a lot different next season as the club only has six players under contract for next season. They should look at adding another perimeter player as I highly doubt that Tracy McGrady would be able to contribute much if anything next season. Taylor does not have a great jumper but his true strength is getting to the basket and finishing and he is great in transition. He also is a very good passer who is a very good defender who can be a great one.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers - Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
This pick depends on what the Cavaliers do with the fourth selection because they really need both a small forward and a center. As I have them taking Barnes with their first selection, I think they will go with a center here. Melo showed a lot of improvement in his sophomore season in Syracuse but he is still really raw offensively. He can block shots and rebound very well naturally because of his size but that's the same story for many stiffs, for example DaSagana Diop, Cavs legend, and Hasheem Thabeet. He needs to show an offensive game to stick.

25. Memphis Grizzlies - Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky
The Grizzlies do not have a lot of needs on their roster thanks to some shrewd moves by their front office but they could use more depth, particularly at the point as they don't have much behind Mike Conley. Teague is very talented who could very well go higher. He is strong and well-sized to run the point. His strengths appear to be putting the ball in the basket but he has the skills to distribute well. He just needs to play consistent defense and show his competitiveness.

26. Indiana Pacers Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky
The Pacers like what they are getting from Leandro Barbosa off the bench but he is a free agent in the offseason. Lamb is a natural shooting guard but his size is a little small for a shooting guard, somewhat similar to Barbosa. Lamb has a great shot from the perimeter and he is very efficient with his shooting. He can't create though and he will struggle defending twos. Having him in the Barbosa role utilizes his talents in the best way, in my opinion.

27. Miami Heat - Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt
Because of how the Heat have been put together, they have been scrambling to put pieces together at center as while Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem and Ronny Turiaf are physical and solid defenders, they are not natural centers and are a little bit undersized. What makes Ezeli interesting is that for a African big man, he really is not that raw as you would think because he stayed all four years at Vandy (what a concept) although he does have room to grow his game. He has great size and is a pretty solid defender down low. His post game is good as well but he needs to improve his rebounding.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder - Draymond Green, PF, Michigan State
As we all know, the Thunder are a pretty set and loaded team, hence the fact that they are in the NBA Finals and currently up 1-0 on Miami. But you can always make room for guys like Green on your team and I'm sure Sam Presti would as well. Green does nothing great but everything pretty well, a jack of all trades if you will, and most importantly he is a winner, as he proved during his time in East Lansing. I have a feeling that Scott Brooks would love this guy to help fill out the roster.

29. Chicago Bulls - Will Barton, SG, Memphis
The Bulls are in pretty good shape with their roster but Barton would definitely fill a role on this club. Chicago has gone with a mish-mash at shooting guard over the last couple of years with a strong defender Ronnie Brewer and the shooter Kyle Korver, particularly after Rip Hamilton was injured for much of this season. Barton would make for a good fit with his slashing scoring abilities. He's very athletic, scores really well particularly in driving to the basket and is a pretty good defender as well.

30. Golden State Warriors - Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure
I fell in love with this Canadian watching him dominate the Atlantic 10 and leading the Bonnies to the tournament and a near upset of Florida State in the first round. He is a great scorer and can shoot the three pointer. He also is versatile and can play both forward positions. His rebounding and shot blocking skills would really come in handy and would help effectively fill the role of Epke Udoh, even after selecting Sullinger earlier.

Check out the mock database at WalterFootball for even more mocks.