27 June 2012

2012 NBA Mock Draft: 6th Edition

We are only days until the 2012 NBA Draft and yes, I know you folks out there are counting down. And thus, here is my sixth (six mock drafts?) and final mock before the draft on this coming Thursday. Enjoy ladies and gents.

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 with a ridiculous wingspan and once he fills into his body and puts on some more weight, watch out. He looks like a star.

2. Charlotte Bobcats - Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
I've been feeling the Bobcats taking Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ever since the lottery but now I've started to move away from that and towards Robinson, who is a talented player in his own right and would give Robinson some much needed scoring in the paint. 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. What I really love about Robinson is his confidence as well as his feistiness on the court. 

3. Washington Wizards - Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
I had the Wizards going with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ever since I started mocking Robinson second but now after the team acquired Trevor Ariza, now the team could address their major hole at the two guard as they only have Jordan Crawford on roster for next season. Beal, who Chad Ford likened to a cross of Ray Allen and Eric Gordon, would be a logical fit. 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 - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
The Cavaliers have many needs outside of Kyrie Irving at the point with arguably their biggest needs being at the wing, where they threw out a parade of scrubs at shooting guard and small forward. They would be ecstatic if Kidd-Gilchrist was available with the fourth selection and I'd be really surprised if they took Harrison Barnes instead, although I would not rule it out. 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. 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.

5. Sacramento Kings - Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
With reports that the Kings would pass on Andre Drummond if he were to be on the board, I think then that Barnes would be the next logical option, especially considering the hole at the three on Sacramento's roster. 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.

6. Portland Trail Blazers (from Brooklyn) - 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 - Dion Waiters, G, Syracuse
The Warriors may seem set in the backcourt with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, whom the Warriors love after a solid rookie campaign, but as both are predominantly shooters, and great ones at that, the team really needs a guy who can get to the basket as well as Waiters can. Plus, Thompson could also play small forward to get all three on the court at the same time. Waiters is an athletic slasher who loves to get at the rim in a way that makes him somewhat similar to Dwayne Wade and he can also shoot the rock from deep as well. 

8. Toronto Raptors - Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State
The Raptors will look to groom a successor to Jose Calderon, who is entering the final year of his contract and is likely priced higher than what Toronto will be willing to play. Plus the Raptors need all the offense they can get. Lillard has been rising after looking pretty good in the drills at the combine and showing off talents as a shooter, which Toronto really needs help as they were in the bottom half in the league in shooting the threeball, and as an athlete. However, Lillard is not quite the prototypical point guard as he needs ot work on his distribution skills.

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 rail-thin. He is a tremendous athlete and a gifted shot blocker but he needs work on his offensive game.

10. New Orleans Hornets (from Minnesota via Clippers) - Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
Yes the Hornets will be taking Davis but the Unibrow is not a true center as he is a little bit undersized for the position. Also, selecting Zeller would mean that the team can move forward without Chris Kaman, who may price himself out of New Orleans' range. 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.

11. Portland Trail Blazers - Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
How about that? Three Tar Heels in a row? Anyways, even as the Blazers spent their first round selection, albeit a late one, on Nolan Smith a year ago, they have a need at point guard as Ray Felton is on the downside of his career plus is a free agent. Marshall's 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 as the talent is there.

13. Phoenix Suns - Austin Rivers, G, Duke
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. And they also need to find the inevitable replacement for Steve Nash. Rivers can fill all of those voids. 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.

14. Houston Rockets - Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
The Rockets as of right now have three first round selections after the Chase Budinger deal with Minnesota for the 18th selection so even as they have such a big need for big men, they can afford to make a great value selection at a lesser need like right here. The UConn product would give the Houston wing more versatility as well as flexibility if they want to move Kevin Martin's contract. 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.

15. Philadelphia 76ers - Jared Sullinger, PF/C, Ohio State
The 76ers will be looking for more frontcourt depth this offseason, especially as Spencer Hawes is a free agent and Elton Brand is coming off the worst year of his career, and could really use some more teeth in rebounding the basketball. Sullinger, whose stock is slipping because of some serious concerns about his back, will help out with both, particularly the latter. 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.

16. Houston Rockets (from New York) - Arnett Moultrie, PF/C, Mississippi State
The Rockets got some decent production from Marcus Camby and Sam Dalembert at center this past season but neither are a long-term fix as both are on the wrong side of thirty. The problem with selecting Moultrie here is that he is green so it would be ideal to keep either Camby or Dalembert around one more year (unless of course the team pulls off the trade for Dwight Howard). 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. 

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. Houston Rockets (from Minnesota) - Moe Harkless, SF, St. John's
This is the pick the Rockets acquired in the shrewd Budinger trade, which was a smart move for both sides as the Timberwolves got a solid small forward they desperately wanted and the Rockets opened up more minutes for Chandler Parsons. If the Rockets do end up keeping this pick, considering they filled other needs earlier, they could add another wing player in the talented Harkless. 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.

19. Orlando Magic - Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
Nobody really knows what the Magic will be going for in this draft since their complementary players around Dwight Howard all return, are not that good anyways, plus we still do not know if Howard will even return in the first place. The Magic could kill two birds with one stone in finding a potential replacement at the five for Howard as well as someone who could develop into the backup big man Daniel Orton never did. 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 and Hasheem Thabeet. He needs to show an offensive game to stick.

20. Denver Nuggets - Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky
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 positionsJones 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.

21. Boston Celtics - Royce White, F, Iowa 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. White does have some character questions regarding his arrest when he was a freshman at Minnesota as well as the fact that he really struggles with flying but he is a talent. He is an undersized four 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.

22. Boston Celtics (from Clippers) - Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure
As I mentioned with the prior selection, the Celtics really need some depth in their frontcourt and could very will utilize both first round selections to take some post players. 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 too. 

23. Atlanta Hawks Tony Wroten, PG, Washington
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 so they could really draft anything here and it would make sense. 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.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers - Will Barton, SG, Memphis
The Cavaliers will definitely pounce on Fab Melo if he is available here, in my opinion, but since I have him going to the Magic, look for Cleveland to add some more talented wing players by taking Barton here, who would give a quality offensive complement to Kidd-Gilchrist. Barton would make for a good fit with Kyrie Irving in the fastbreak 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. 

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 - Evan Fournier, SG/SF, France
If there is one thing the Bulls could really use, besides, of course, a healthy Derrick Rose, is another penetrating scorer, one of which does not really exist on the roster, especially as Rip Hamilton was hampered by injuries all season. There is always a risk with taking international prospects and that certainly exists with this 19-year-old Frenchman. There is also a lot of upside here as well as his play in France has been really impressive and if he develops into the playmaking scorer that he is, the Bulls will be one happy club.

30. Golden State Warriors - Jeffrey Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt
The Warriors have a hole at small forward that they are craving to improve upon and thus they have been rumored to be dangling their first selection at seven for some help there, as well as targeting somebody in free agency. Regardless of what they do, taking a polished three like Taylor would make a lot of sense. 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, which would make Mark Jackson happy. 

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