On Wednesday night May 30th, the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery took place, with the Charlotte Hornets beating the odds and winning the first selection in the NBA Draft on June 28th. We now have a long month of workouts ahead as the prospects jockey for draft position. The most interesting position to me in this draft is shooting guard, because it is currently a weak position throughout the NBA, and there are a lot of talented players at that position in this draft who will compete against each other for draft position. The most interesting player in the draft is UConn big man Andre Drummond, who is talented enough to be selected as early as second overall, but he did not show it at UConn. In early workouts scouts are leaving blown away by Drummond, he is 6’11 275lbs and built, with explosive leaping ability and incredible athleticism for his size. I have heard that he reminds scouts of a cross between Amare Stoudamire and Dwight Howard, do not be surprised if he begins rising up draft boards as we get closer to the draft. On to Mock Draft 2.0:
1 ) New Orleans Hornets (21-45) – Anthony Davis (Power Forward/Center) 6’11 220lbs Freshman, Kentucky - This was exactly the type of franchise saving win that the Hornets needed after trading cornerstone Chris Paul to the Clippers and beginning their rebuilding effort. Anthony Davis is the type of skilled big man that can quickly alter the future of a franchise and the Hornets needed him in a big way. Although I do not think he is a franchise savior who will turn things around instantly, Davis is absolutely be a step in the right direction. He is not yet a major scoring threat, but he is extremely athletic and has good hands, he will instantly upgrade rebounding and interior defense in New Orleans. He needs to add bulk and refine his offensive game, but paired with Eric Gordon and whoever the Hornets pick with the tenth overall selection in this draft, and they are headed quickly in the right direction.
2 ) Charlotte Bobcats (7-59) – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Small Forward) 6’7 210lbs Freshman, Kentucky - A basketball fan has to feel bad for the Charlotte Bobcats, they were by far the worst franchise in the league, and lose out in a lottery when there is a consensus first overall pick in the draft. The Bobcats are in desperate need of a culture change, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can provide the leadership that will push this franchise in the right direction. Kidd-Gilchrist is famous for his hustle on both ends of the court and the hard work he puts in each day at practice. He is an elite athlete and defender, and while his jumper needs work, you know he will put in the long hours it will take to improve. I think that after watching the workouts, Michael Jordan, Rich Cho and the rest of the Bobcats staff will be intrigued by UConn big man Andre Drummond, however this franchise needs a winner and Kidd-Gilchrist is the right pick. Plus there are too many Kwame Brown comparisons to be made with Drummond.
3 ) Washington Wizards (20-46) – Bradley Beal (Shooting Guard) 6’5 195lbs Freshman, Florida - The Wizards are a team that is loaded with talented, but immature players, lead by point guard John Wall. Beal has the most refined offensive game in this draft and is a no brainer for the Wizards if he is still on the board with the third pick. He is an excellent complement to Wall, who is more of an athlete than a shooter, and fills a gaping hole in the backcourt. His silky smooth jumper will open up the rest of the Washington offense, and all of the elite athletes on the roster will find it much easier to attack the rim. If the Wizards draft Beal, he instantly becomes the starting shooting guard, and present starter Jordan Crawford is regulated to offensive spark plug off the bench which is the role he is best suited for in the NBA. I think this pick is the perfect fit for both Beal and the Wizards, he is exactly what a team loaded with elite athletes and no shooters needs.
4 ) Cleveland Cavaliers (21-45) – Harrison Barnes (guard/forward) 6’8 210lbs Sophomore, North Carolina - It is no secret that the Cavs loved Harrison Barnes during the 2011 NBA Draft process and were considering selecting him with the fourth pick last year, until he decided to go back to school. They get their chance and Barnes would provide a huge upgrade at a position where they definitely need help. I think that the Cavs would be thrilled if Bradley Beal or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were on the board here, but that won’t happen unless Drummond has a meteoric rise following workouts. The Cavs need a young shot maker on the wing to grow up with point guard Kyrie Irving and power forward Tristan Thompson, and Barnes fits that bill.
5 ) Sacramento Kings (22-44) – Andre Drummond (Power Forward/Center) 6’11 275lbs Freshman, Connecticut - I am really confused by this Kings team, because when you look at their roster on paper, they look like they should be a playoff contender. They have a lot of very good individual basketball players who really have no clue how to play on a basketball team. If I were in charge, I would look to trade Tyreke Evans and other pieces in a deal that would land me a point guard that knew how to run the show, because there is a lot of talent here with no basketball IQ. I think the smart move for the Kings would be to draft a pure point guard here, but this is too early for any of the point guards in this draft class. I also think that the far more mature Thomas Robinson could be a better fit next to Demarcus Cousins, however the Kings love potential, and Drummond has more untapped potential than anyone in this draft. The twin towers approach with Cousins and Drummond, if it works out, would give the Kings the most talented young front court in the NBA.
6 ) Portland Trail Blazers via Brooklyn Nets (22-44) – Thomas Robinson (Power Forward) 6’9 237lbs Junior, Kansas - The Blazers dream would be Drummond falling to this pick, they could really use his interior presence, however they could do a lot worse than Robinson who is still on the board in this scenario. Robinson is NBA ready and brings serious toughness inside, which the Blazers sorely lack, he would be an immediate upgrade to the Portland front court and can help them provide lots of different lineup looks and flexability. The Blazers could also really use a true young point guard, and I think this is the absolute earliest Damian Lillard could come off the board, because he is supposedly turning heads in workouts. The Blazers, however, also have the eleventh pick in this draft and can afford to wait on a point guard and select the best player available at six. If Portland falls in love with a player do not be shocked if they try to package the 6th and 11th picks to move up. I think that the Blazers would be able to package those two picks and maybe another asset to move up to the second pick, as the Bobcats need multiple players so they can get better in a hurry.
7 ) Golden State Warriors (23-42) – Perry Jones III (Forward) 6’11 235lbs Sophomore, Baylor -Golden State did an embarrassing job of tanking to make sure they kept this draft pick and it worked out, because it is top seven protected, and if it fell out of the top seven it would have been sent to the Utah Jazz. The ideal scenario with this draft pick is clearly Andre Drummond or Thomas Robinson, because Golden State was the worst rebounding team in the NBA last season, and although they get oft-injured center Andrew Bogut back next season rebounding will still be an issue. Perry Jones III was once talked about as a potential number one overall pick, however he is extremely soft and wants to play like a guard trapped in a forward’s body. The potential is there, but he has to show he will put in the work to become great, which he did not do at Baylor.
8 ) Toronto Raptors (23-43) – Damian Lillard (Point Guard) 6’2 185lbs Junior, Weber State - 2012 will be a big season for the Raptors, as they will get their 2011 first round (5th overall) draft pick, Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas who has been playing well overseas along with whoever is selected with this pick. The Raptors need a true point guard, and in this scenario they grab Lillard who has been wowing NBA scouts with his skill set at recent workouts. Lillard is an excellent shooter who is also a heady point guard and exceptional athlete, he is currently quickly rising up NBA draft boards, and would be an excellent fit to run the show in Toronto.
9 ) Detroit Pistons (25-41) – Arnett Moultrie (Power Forward) 6’11 225lbs Junior, Mississippi State -The Pistons are known to covet a true center, so they can have the flexibility to move 2010 first round pick Greg Monroe to power forward, which is his more natural position. Andre Drummond has the Pistons drooling, but after scouts see his workouts, it is highly unlikely that he will last this long. The big man duo of John Henson and Tyler Zeller are options here, however the Pistons go with the pure upside of Moultrie, who is quickly rising up draft boards. He can score inside and stretch the floor with his jumper, and is an excellent rebounder, who fits best at power forward in the pros. Moultrie does not bring the dominant defensive presence that the Pistons covet alongside Monroe, but he is a big upgrade to the Detroit frontcourt. Jared Sullinger or John Henson could be options here if they think Moultrie’s game is too similar to Monroe’s.
10 ) New Orleans Hornets via Minnesota Timberwolves (26-40) – Kendall Marshall (Point Guard) 6’4 188lbs Sophomore, North Carolina - The Hornets have already drafted the consensus number one player on the board in Anthony Davis, now they need a true point guard to feed him the ball, and the best distributor on the draft is North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall who finished second in college basketball in assists last season. Marshall is a gifted passer with incredible court vision and great size for the position in the NBA. He cannot shoot and is not an explosive athlete, however the Hornets are desperate for a distributor and Marshall can bring that skill to the table right away. The Hornets would take Lillard if he was available here, and Syracuse combo guard Dion Waiters is also an option.
11 ) Portland Trail Blazers (28-38) – Terrence Ross (Shooting Guard) 6’6 195lbs Junior, Washington -Portland is another team that has likely has the luxury of two lottery picks, and they really need a point guard, but none are available here. The Blazers grab fast rising prospect Terrence Ross, who projects very well to the NBA. He is one of the best shooters in the draft and is an explosive athlete with prototypical NBA shooting guard size. I see a little James Harden at Arizona State to his game, and he could potentially become a similar player down the road for the Blazers. Although they did not land the point guard they desire in this scenario, Thomas Robinson and Ross in the first 11 picks is a very nice haul. I am starting to wonder if the Blazers will reach a bit for Lillard with the sixth pick, then they can grab one of the many forward options here.
12 ) Milwaukee Bucks (31-35) – Tyler Zeller (Center) 7′ 235lbs Senior, North Carolina - Milwaukee needs help inside, and Zeller would provide an immediate upgrade over Drew Gooden in the middle, with his ability to run the floor and soft touch around the basket. With players like Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis on the roster, the Bucks do not need anyone who is looking to shoot the ball, Zeller can run the floor with those two players while contributing easy baskets inside and providing help on the glass and protecting the rim.
13 ) Phoenix Suns (33-33) – Dion Waiters (Shooting Guard) 6’4 215lbs Sophomore, Syracuse – When I think of the poorest run organizations in the NBA over the past five years, the Suns are right at the top of the list, and the fact that they never won a title during the Steve Nash era needs to be considered an absolute failure. They would be one of the worst teams in the NBA, but the consistently stellar play of Nash has kept the team mediocre, and they are stuck picking in the middle of the first round seemingly every year. Nash is 38 years old and a free agent this summer, so it is time for the Suns to truly bottom out and enter rebuilding mode, and they could do a lot worse than starting out with the Waiters. He is an explosive scorer and great athlete who has a little poor man’s Dwayne Wade to his game, plus he is tough, and the Suns are a notoriously soft team. I have seen Waiters projected to be drafted much higher than thirteenth overall, and he could be a steal here for the Suns.
14 ) Houston Rockets (34-32) – John Henson (Power Forward/Center) 6’11 210lbs Junior, North Carolina - The Rockets have been collecting assets for years (including the 14th and 16th picks in this draft), and have a lot of young players with potential and a ton of depth, it may be time to finally ship some of the assets out and acquire some legitimate star power. The Rockets could also really use some young size up front, as both Samuel Dalembert and Marcus Camby are past their prime and will be free agents. Henson reminds me a bit of Camby when he came out of UMass, he is long and needs to get much stronger, and while not a great scorer there is plenty of room for development. Talent meets need here, and he is another young asset that the Rockets can package to land the star power which general manager Daryl Morey covets.
15 ) Philadelphia 76ers (35-31) – Jeremy Lamb (Shooting Guard) 6’5 185lbs Sophomore, Connecticut - The 76ers have a talented young team and have made a lot of progress under Doug Collins, advancing to the second round of the playoffs, and are currently tied with the Boston Celtics in the Eastern semifinals at a game apiece. While the team is loaded with young talent, they do not have a player on the roster that can consistently hit three pointers, and Lamb is one of the best shooters in this draft class. In fact, I think Lamb is underrated as a prospect overall, and could be a very good NBA caliber shooting guard. He is falling in the draft because of his passive nature and playing style, getting passed by Ross and Waiters at a deep position talent-wise but the talent is there. The 76ers could be getting a major steal if Lamb is still on the board this late in the draft, he would fill their biggest need.
16 ) Houston Rockets via New York Knicks (36-30) – Austin Rivers (Shooting Guard) 6’4 200lbs Freshman, Duke - In this scenario, the Rockets have already drafted John Henson, and now can upgrade their backup shooting guard spot (behind Kevin Martin) with another talent young prospect. Rivers is obviously the son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers and is a student of the game, who knows how to get to the basket and is an improving shooter could be a potential star down the road. When you look at the Rockets roster, they have a ton of talented players that need playing time, and I think they will swing a trade or two this offseason to eliminate some of their depth and bring them some star power. General Manager Daryl Morey has done an incredible job of acquiring valuable assets, and he tried to trade several of them to acquire Pau Gasol (we all know the fishy scenario unfolded there), I think he finally uses some of his talent to acquire a star, and they still have enough pieces left on the roster to be a very good team.
17 ) Dallas Mavericks (36-30) – Terrence Jones (Forward) 6’8 244lbs Sophomore, Kentucky - Dallas clearly needs to get younger and their plan to sign Dallas native and current Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams this offseason is no secret. They would be thrilled if Jones inexplicably lasted this long in the draft, and would quickly grab the talented Kentucky forward, who could be a lottery pick. Jones has some attitude problems, and is a little small to play power forward in the Pros while not skilled enough with the ball to play small forward, but this is the only reason he is sliding a bit. Jones is athletic and strong, and if he is motivated in the NBA he could be the steal of the draft this late.
18 ) Minnesota Timberwolves via Utah Jazz (36-30) – Jared Sullinger (Power Forward) 6’9 280lbs Sophomore, Ohio State - This is not the ideal draft projection for the Timberwolves, who desperately need one of the shooting guards (Ross, Waiters, Lamb, Rivers) to slide this far on draft night, because that position is by far their biggest need. It would be a major shock to everyone if Sullinger slid this far on draft day, however it could happen, because he is not an elite athlete, he may be closer to 6’7, and has had issues with his conditioning in the past. The Timberwolves grab him in this scenario to add another talented asset to their young core, and while I am not sure you could possibly play him alongside Kevin Love in any scenario, Sullinger is an excellent rebounder who can score and should play in the NBA for a long time.
19 ) Orlando Magic (37-29) – Moe Harkless (Small Forward) 6’8 190lbs Freshman, St. John’s - The Magic are entering year two of “Dwight Howard Drama” which is not a situation any team wants to be in, and they need to start to acquire talent for the future rebuilding effort which is surely headed their way, with or without Howard. Harkless is an incredible athlete and excellent defensive player who’s jump shot really needs work, but he can score right away in transition and could end up being a steal if his jump shot improves down the road. His pure athleticism is currently moving him up the board in the early stages of the draft process.
20 ) Denver Nuggets (38-28) – Tony Wroten Jr. (Guard) 6’5 205lbs Freshman, Washington - The Nuggets are another team that is totally loaded with young talent, but needs a true star to get to the next level, except they are not going to find one this late in the draft. They continue to acquire as much talent as possible, and take the best players available in this situation, who at this point is Tony Wroten Jr. There is little doubt that Wroten is a big time talent, he has size and can get to the basket plus elite passing skills, however he needs a lot of work on his jump shot. I have said that about a lot of players in this mock draft, let me emphasize it this time, Wroten Jr cannot shoot. He is a great athlete who can handle the ball, and projects as a combo guard on the next level. Questions about his attitude also contribute to him slipping this far in the draft, if you consider him a point guard and not a combo guard and think you can fix his jumper, he could be selected much higher.
21 ) Boston Celtics (29-27) – Meyers Leonard (Center) 7′ 240lbs Sophomore, Illinois - The Celtics desperately need to get younger, and they need to start building depth for the quickly approaching Post Big Three era, especially in the paint. Meyers Leonard is raw, and needs a development, however he is an athletic seven footer that has shown some promise and has a nice touch on his jump shot. He is already a pretty strong defensive presence, who could immediately work his way into the rotation, and become a part of the future core of the Celtics.
22 ) Boston Celtics via LA Clippers (40-26) – Quincy Miller (Small Forward) 6’9 210lbs Freshman, Baylor - The Celtics have back to back picks, and if they select a big man with one, I expect them to draft an athletic wing with the other. Quincy Miller was a top ten pick coming into the year based on his reputation, however he never got into rhythm at Baylor, and struggled. The talent and potential is still there, and Miller will need some development, but he could become a steal down the road for the Celtics. With Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Meyers Leonard and Quincy Miller on board, the Celtics could be reloading instead of rebuilding in the “Post Big Three” Era.
23 ) Atlanta Hawks (40-26) – Fab Melo (Center) 7 feet, 274lbs Sophomore, Syracuse - The Hawks really need to find a reliable point guard (and they are not taking Marquis Teague, considering they already have his big brother), but that is not going to happen at this point of the draft, so instead they grab big Syracuse center Fab Melo here. Melo is huge and while he needs to get in better shape physically and is nowhere near a finished product offensively, he can immediately block shots and rebound on an NBA level. There are rumors that the Hawks could look to ship out either Josh Smith or Joe Johnson this offseason, and adding Melo would let Al Horford play more time at power forward instead of being forced to play center. Rumors are circulating that Melo showed up to workouts in the best shape of his life and he is really impressing scouts.
24 ) Cleveland Cavilers via LA Lakers (41-25) – Andrew Nicholson (Power Forward) 6’9 222lbs Senior, St. Bonaventure - The skilled senior improved every year and has a nice inside outside game with an NBA ready body. Teams will start to consider him in the late teens or early 20′s and his stock is currently rising. He did not regularly play against top competition, but played well when he did. Nicholson should be a solid contributor as a reserve player early in his NBA career. He would be a nice addition to replace impending free agent Antwan Jamison on an quickly improving young Cavs core.
25 ) Memphis Grizzlies (41-25) – Draymond Green (Small Forward) 6’6 235lbs Senior, Michigan State – An experienced leader who is an excellent passer and rebounder, Green may never be a full time starter in the NBA, however he will make whichever team he joins better. Green should be able to get the ball inside to the Memphis big men, knock down a shot if left open, and play some point forward. He gives a team versatility, and is too good to pass up for Memphis here, he can impact the game.
26 ) Indiana Pacers (42-24) – Marquis Teague (Point Guard) 6’2 178lbs Freshman, Kentucky - The Pacers have an excellent young core, and they really need a go-to scorer who they can rely on in the clutch, however that is difficult to find at the 26th overall selection. Adding Marquis Teague would give them a young point guard prospect with a high ceiling that they could develop and mold into a starter down the road, and they can package one of their other point guards (Darren Collison or George Hill) with some of their other pieces in the hopes of finally finding the star this well balanced team needs to get to the next level.
27 ) Miami Heat (46-20) – Royce White (Forward) 6’8 240lbs Sophomore, Iowa State - The Heat just need solid players who can log minutes and support the big three, and White is one of the most talented players in the draft, based on ability. He does have some issues, including an anxiety disorder and a fear of flying, however he will not have any pressure on him in Miami next to Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. He could become an excellent bench player in Miami, and a steal this late in the draft, as a scorer with the Heat’s second unit.
28 ) Oklahoma City Thunder (47-19) – Jeff Taylor (Small Forward) 6’7 225lbs Senior, Vanderbilt - The Thunder pick up a solid role player off of the bench, a good defensive player who is athletic and can knock down open jump shots with accuracy. The Thunder do not need another guy who will be looking for his shot, as they have plenty of those players, and Taylor is the kind of guy who could step in as a defensive stopper and glue guy off of the bench for a good team.
29 ) Chicago Bulls (50-16) – Doron Lamb (Shooting Guard) 6’4 195lbs Sophomore, Kansas - The Bulls desperately need a shooting guard and have for years, and they find a good prospect this late in the draft in Lamb, who can knock down the open jumper and knows how to score. Lamb is a little undersized for the position in the pros and needs to add strength, but if Derrick Rose can get him open looks, Lamb has a chance to be his backcourt mate of the future.
30 ) Golden State Warriors via San Antonio Spurs (50-16) – Festus Ezeli (Center) 6’11 255lbs Senior, Vanderbilt - We know the Warriors want to get bigger and tougher on the glass, while improving defensively and Ezeli can bring all of that. He has good size and his offensive game is still a work in progress, but that is not what you are looking for from him if you draft him. If the Warriors grab a notoriously soft player like Perry Jones early in the first round, expect them to draft a tough interior player like Ezeli later in the round.
JUST MISSED THE CUT:
Evan Fournier (Shooting Guard) 6’7 206lbs, France - I’m fairly certain he gets drafted late in the first round, by a deep veteran team that cans stash him overseas and hold onto his rights for a few years, normally I would just give him to San Antonio but they do not have a first round pick. Has good size but needs to get stronger and improve his jumper, best at going to the basket. I almost gave him to the Thunder, and I could see them stashing him overseas for a few years.
John Jenkins (Shooting Guard) 6’4 215lbs Junior, Vanderbilt - There is little doubt that Jenkins is one of the best pure shooters in the draft and belongs on an NBA roster, however this is a deep shooting guard class, which causes him to slide into the second round here. I question if he is athletic enough to be anything more than a three point threat off of the bench on the next level, but his quick release should make him a good one.
Will Barton (Shooting Guard) 6’5 165lbs Sophomore, Memphis - I really like Barton as a prospect, although he will need time to develop, he can score from anywhere on the court in hurry. He needs to get much stronger, he is only 165lbs on a 6’5 frame, however I think he has a clear role in the NBA as an offensive spark off of the bench. Reminds me a little of a young Jamal Crawford.
Tyshon Taylor (Point Guard) 6’3 185lbs Senior – Kansas - The experienced senior will have a career as a backup who can log big minutes if need be, and may eventually become a good starter on the next level. He makes a lot of mistakes with the basketball, which knocks him into the second round in this scenario, however he has good size, quickness and has improved his jump shot. He has a chance to be selected in the first round, and he’ll make it in the NBA.
Kevin Jones (Power Forward) 6’8 250lbs Senior – West Virginia -Kevin Jones slides into the second round because he lacks a natural position in the NBA, he is a forward tweener who can play both positions, but will not excel at either. He does have a great motor and good length, he plays hard and has long arms, all traits that an NBA team will look for in a reserve forward off of the bench. I think his stock could rise in the coming weeks, and he could sneak into round one with terrific workouts.
Scott Machado (Point Guard) 6’1 180lbs Senior – Iona - The senior knows how to run an offense, he is an excellent passer and a well-rounded player who may get selected in the first round by a team looking for a backup point guard who does not make mistakes. He does not have great size and is not an exceptional athlete, however he is a heady player, who projects as a solid reserve point guard.
Kyle O’Quinn (Center) 6’11 240lbs Senior – Norfolk State - An athletic big man who is a good rebounder, O’Quinn will need a few year of development and NBA practice time to become a contributor, however the talent is there. He can put the ball in the basket plus he is an excellent defender and shot blocker, and if you are willing to give him a few years, he could contribute as a solid backup big man.
Jared Cunningham (Shooting Guard) 6’4 194lbs Junior – Oregon State - Cunningham is a athletic and long two guard who is excels at getting to the rim and is a strong finisher. He is an explosive scorer, but is a streaky at best shooter, who needs a lot of work on his jump shot. He looks great one game and then horrible the next, his game needs consistency.
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