The NBA Draft takes place tomorrow night (Thursday June 28th) and for those of you interested, I think I’m going to attempt a Sportsmasher.com first and pour some drinks and drunkenly live blog the draft. Should be entertaining, especially as we get into the second round, and my vision gets blurry. Until then, I have decided to issue my FINAL 2012 NBA MOCK DRAFT (Version 4.0). You can check previous versions of my mock drafts at the links below.
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. UPDATE: The Hornets made the excellent move of trading center Emeka Okafor and small forward Trevor Ariza to the Washington Wizards for Rashard Lewis and a second round draft pick (#46 overall). I am very impressed, this move will save them roughly $30 million once they buy Lewis out. Now they can match any offer for restricted free agent shooting guard Eric Gordon comfortably and still be a player in the free agent market, excellent move. They also have the tenth pick in the draft and will have an excellent start on their Post Chris Paul Era rebuilding effort heading into the 2012 season.
2 ) Charlotte Bobcats (7-59) – Thomas Robinson (Power Forward) 6’9 237lbs Junior, Kansas – I think that the Bobcats have decided that Robinson is their guy, however I think that they trade this pick, and select him a few spots later. The rumor is that the Cavs (who have the fourth pick) want Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal, but fear that the Washington Wizards will select him with the third pick, so they are in discussions with the Bobcats to move up and select Beal second overall. The Bobcats do not think that the Wizards will select Robinson, because they need a shooter more than a big man, and the Bobcats would select Robinson at the fourth pick overall. The Bobcats want the Cavs 24th pick (1st round) to make this trade happen, while the Cavs are currently offering either one or both of their second round picks (#33, #34 overall). I do not mock trades, so if Charlotte stays here, the pick will be Robinson. He is the safest pick in the draft after Davis, and is ready to produce right away at the next level. As we all know, the Bobcats cannot afford another draft night mistake. UPDATE: The Wizards are smartly making it known that if the Bobcats make the discussed trade with the Cavs, they will entertain offers for the third pick from anyone who wants Thomas Robinson, which could deter the Bobcats from making this trade.
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. The Wizards also sent a second round pick (#46) and the expiring contract of small forward Rashard Lewis to the New Orleans Hornets for small forward Trevor Ariza and center Emeka Okafor, lessening the need for a big man or athletic wing player even more, while increasing the Wizard’s need for a true shooting guard. The Wizards will take Beal if he is on the board, and if not they will take North Carolina guard/forward Harrison Barnes and will be happy with either selection. UPDATE: It may be a smokescreen to deter the Bobcats from trading the second pick to the Cavs, but the Wizards are threatening to trade this pick if Beal us not available. Read more at the second pick (above) my guess is if that trade went down the Wizards select Barnes or MKG here, slight edge goes to Barnes because of his shooting ability.
4 ) Cleveland Cavaliers (21-45) – Harrison Barnes (guard/forward) 6’8 210lbs Sophomore, North Carolina – The Cavs have been linked to North Carolina guard/forward Harrison Barnes since last year’s NBA Draft, when he decided to go back to school, however the team is suddenly infatuated with Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal as well. If the Cavs want Beal, they will have to trade ahead of the Wizards, who they are afraid will select him third overall. I mentioned the rumored trade above (in the Bobcats section) however, will the Cavs really pay the hefty price of a the #24th overall pick for the right to select Beal? Do that have him graded that much higher than Harrison Barnes? I don’t, and if I was the Cavs, I would stand pat and draft Barnes right here while holding on to the #24 pick in a deep draft. However, I do not run an NBA team (yet…call me) and they may elect to trade up and select Beal.
5 ) Sacramento Kings (22-44) – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Small Forward) 6’7 210lbs Freshman, Kentucky – 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. In this scenario the Kings get extremely lucky, as they draft the hardest worker (and in many opinions second best overall player) in the draft, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the fifth overall selection. Kidd-Gilchrist will bring a culture change to Sacramento with his hard work and leadership, which this team sorely lacks, and desperately needs. He will immediately be an elite defensive player and will be able to score in transition, his jump shot needs work, but he will spend countless hours in the gym working on this facet of his game. Perfect fit. UPDATE: There is rumored ongoing trade discussions between the Kings and the Houston Rockets. In this trade the Kings would trade this pick and guard Tyreke Evans to the Rockets for point guard Kyle Lowrey and the #14 & #16 picks. The Rockets would then select UConn big man Andre Drummond with this pick.
6 ) Portland Trail Blazers via Brooklyn Nets (22-44) – Andre Drummond (Power Forward/Center) 6’11 275lbs Freshman, Connecticut – I have had Weber State point guard Damian Lillard going here for the last few mock drafts, and he has been extremely impressive in workouts, however I have also heard that this is the furthest Drummond falls on draft day. He is huge with an NBA Body and ridiculously athletic for his size, if a team takes the time to develop him, they may have a monster on their hands before long. Portland has two lottery picks, which allows them to gamble a little, and select Drummond here. They can find a guard a lot easier with the eleventh overall pick than a big man with Drummond’s upside. If the Rockets are unable to trade up and select Drummond I expect him to be the pick here.
7 ) Golden State Warriors (23-42) – Dion Waiters (Shooting Guard) 6’4 215lbs Sophomore, Syracuse – 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. They keep the pick, but if the draft shakes out this way, I expect them to aggressively look to trade down. We know that they have been shopping this pick for a starting caliber small forward, but could also look to simply trade down and grab a player with size at a better value later, instead of reaching for one here. The Warriors want to get bigger and tougher inside, however we know that they have been enamored with Syracuse combo guard Dion Waiters in recent weeks, he is a slasher with a little Dwayne Wade to his game, and would bring the Warriors an element that they do not currently have offensively and add depth in case Stephon Curry continues to struggle with ankle injuries.
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. I have heard that the Raptors will choose between UConn shooting guard Jeremy Lamb and Syracuse combo guard Dion Waiters here for a while, with Lamb in the lead, so I would not be shocked if Lamb is the pick here. However, I do not think that the Raptors thought that Lillard would still be on the board at this point, and being that they desperately need a true point guard, he would be too good to pass up. He has been wowing scouts at workouts throughout the draft process, and if Portland passes up on him at six, I think he lands here.
9 ) Detroit Pistons (25-41) – John Henson (Power Forward/Center) 6’11 210lbs Junior, North Carolina – 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 it is highly unlikely that he will last this long, and I cannot see him getting past the Golden State Warriors in worst case scenario. I hear that the current favorite at this pick is John Henson, the long and rangy shotblocker from North Carolina, who has yet to grow into his body. Henson could become a Marcus Camby-type player down the road if he can gain weight and fill out his thin frame with muscle. His shot blocking ability would be a nice fit next to Greg Monroe in the Pistons’ front court of the future. UPDATE: I cannot believe the Pistons traded a first round pick and Ben Gordon for Corey Magettee, that first round pick will become very valuable to the Bobcats. Just another horrible trade by Joe Dumars, they are not good enough to be giving up first round picks in trades, they are a long way away from being a decent team.
10 ) New Orleans Hornets via Minnesota Timberwolves (26-40) – Austin Rivers (Shooting Guard) 6’4 200lbs Freshman, Duke – The Hornets now have Anthony Davis on board and they will do whatever it takes to keep restricted free agent shooting guard Eric Gordon, but after those two players, the roster is pretty bare. They could really use a talented young point guard, however this is too early for Kendall Marshall, and he is the next best point guard prospect in the draft. Instead, the Hornets grab a player that has quickly risen up draft boards this week, Austin Rivers. Rivers can handle the ball and is more of a combo guard than a pure shooting guard, he can get to the rim and can easily play at the same time as starting shooting guard Eric Gordon. In fact the two would make an exciting tandem to watch play together, with Davis, and Rivers could be a cornerstone of this franchise for years to come.
11 ) Portland Trailblazers (28-38) – Kendall Marshall (Point Guard) 6’4 188lbs Sophomore, North Carolina – In this scenario the Blazers have already selected UConn big man Andre Drummond as their center of the future and already have their forward tandem of LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum under contract along with shooting guard Wesley Matthews. Point guards Ray Felton and Andre Miller are both free agents who are expected to be playing elsewhere next season, and the Blazers need a point guard of the future. With a lot of talent elsewhere on the roster, they do not need a shooter, and draft the best distributor in the draft with the eleventh pick in Marshall. It is a little bit of a reach for Marshall here, however he fills a major need and has great size for the position and court vision, and he can get the ball to his teammates in position to score.
12 ) Houston Rockets via Milwaukee Bucks (31-35) – Perry Jones III (Forward) 6’11 235lbs Sophomore, Baylor – The Rockets have been collecting assets for years (including the 12th, 16th & 18th 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. As we know they are trying to assemble a trade package for Dwight Howard as I am writing this, and also have several backup plans in place (rumored to be Pau Gasol, Josh Smith or Tyreke Evans) but it they get stuck making all of these draft picks and acquiring more assets, they could do a lot worst than Perry Jones. Jones is loaded with talent, but he needs a lot of development, however he does have NBA superstar potential down the road. If he can bulk up and start playing like more of a forward than a shooting guard, Jones might become an All-Star caliber player a few years in the future. The Rockets traded up two spots to the Milwaukee Bucks to get this pick, they are inching their way closer to the top ten, and I expect more trades.
13 ) Phoenix Suns (33-33) – Jeremy Lamb (Shooting Guard) 6’5 185lbs Sophomore, Connecticut – 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 Lamb. I think Lamb could be gone as early as the eigth pick to the Raptors, but in this scenario, he is still available. The Suns need to select the best player on their board, regardless of position, and in this case they get a good prospect in Lamb, who could be their starting two guard of the future.
14 ) Milwaukee Bucks via Houston Rockets (34-32) -Tyler Zeller (Center) 7′ 235lbs Senior, North Carolina – I have been told that if John Henson is still on the board here, he is the pick, but in this scenario he is gone, and they go with his teammate Tyler Zeller. This may be a blessing in disgusie for the Bucks, because they have several players (Epke Udoh, Larry Sanders) in the mold of John Henson, but nobody like Tyler Zeller. While I doubt Zeller will ever make the All-Star team in the NBA, I think he will have a long career as a starting center. He knows how to score around the basket and he is excellent at running the floor, so he will fir in well with their uptempo style of offense. The Bucks traded down to 14th overall with the Houston Rockets, so they definitely think that one of the players they are targeting will be available with this pick, my guess is either Zeller or Terrence Ross. They also got center Samuel Dalembert in the deal, but the rumor is his team option may not be picked up.
15 ) Philadelphia 76ers (35-31) – Terrence Ross (Shooting Guard) 6’6 195lbs Junior, Washington – The 76ers are a talented young team which surprised many people least season, as they played extremely hard under head coach Doug Collins and advanced to the second round of the playoffs before falling to the Celtics in seven games. While the team is loaded with young talent, they do not have a player on the roster that can consistently hit three pointers, and Ross is one of the best shooters in this draft class. In fact, I think Ross is underrated as a prospect overall, and could be a very good NBA caliber shooting guard. He needs to get stronger, but he is extremely athletic and has excellent size and great accuracy on his jump shot. He reminds me a little of James Harden when he came out of Arizona State, though not as strong or as good of a ball handler, and I think he will be a very good pro.
16 ) Houston Rockets via New York Knicks (36-30) – Meyers Leonard (Center) 7′ 240lbs Sophomore, Illinois – It is very tough to project what the Rockets will do with their picks, because I expect that they will trade some, if not all of their picks either for a star player or to move up in the draft and select Andre Drummond. If they are unable to swing a trade before the draft, they will be drafting trade assets or players that can fill a role alongside a star player that they acquire in the future, and they could so a lot worse than Meyers Leonard. He is an athletic seven footer with a nice touch on his jump shot who should develop into a starting NBA center down the road, and will at worst be a rotational big man. Leonard really impressed scouts during workouts, and it is really a tossup between Zeller and Leonard as center prospects at this point, if you are looking for production now Zeller would be the answer, however Leonard has much more potential in the future.
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. However this is a team that really showed it’s age in 2011 and veteran players such as Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, and Shawn Marion could find themselves playing elsewhere in 2012. The Mavericks need a youth movement, and in this case, they get extremely lucky. If I were running an NBA Team, the talented Jones would be long gone before this point in the draft, I think he will have a very successful NBA career. However there are some major weaknesses to Jones, he does not really have a position in the NBA and has a reputation for being difficult to coach, plus he likes to shoot the three a little too much for my liking. These are the only reasons that Jones falls this far in the draft, and makes Dallas one of the luckiest teams in the first round. Jones can score, he is strong and athletic, is a great passer for his size and is an exceptional ball handler. He would be an excellent fit in Dallas and give them the youthful boost they desperately need.
18 ) Houston Rockets via Minnesota Timberwolves via Utah Jazz (36-30) – Moe Harkless (Small Forward) 6’8 190lbs Freshman, St. John’s – Once again, I do not expect the Rockets to be picking here, however if they are they will be looking to select the best trade assets available or players that can play alongside the star they eventually trade for. I think Moe Harkless is extremely talented, he will be a lockdown defender in the pros, he is extremely athletic and he knows how to score in transition. His game lacks polish, and he needs to become a more accurate jump shooter, and he is likely a few years away from producing night in and night out. His game is still a work in progress, but he exudes upside, and I would not be shocked if he snuck into the late lottery on draft night. In this scenario, he lands in the late teens.
19 ) Orlando Magic (37-29) – Arnett Moultrie (Power Forward) 6’11 225lbs Junior, Mississippi State – 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. Moultrie would be a nice complement to Howard, because he can really stretch the defense with his jump shot, and will not clog up the middle of the paint for Howard. As we know Howard is also the best rebounder in the NBA, but the addition of another competent rebounder like Moultrie would go a long way in Orlando. Moultrie also struggles on the defensive end of the court, but with Howard patrolling the paint, Orlando could mask this weakness. I actually think Moultrie would be a great fit in Orlando with Howard, and a step in the right direction for the future if they trade Howard. One thing is clear, Orlando needs to draft the best player available regardless of position, and with the deep talent pool in this draft someone talented should slide to them at #19.
20 ) Denver Nuggets (38-28) – Jared Sullinger (Power Forward) 6’9 280lbs Sophomore, Ohio State – 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. We all know about Sullinger being diagnosed with a serious back condition, however at some point in the draft, the rewards that could come from drafting Sullinger outweigh the risks of his bad back. The addition of a healthy Sullinger could make the Nuggets very dangerous, his ability to score the basketball and rebound inside is something that this team sorely lacks, and his addition would make the depth of the Denver roster scary. The Nuggets roster has enough depth that they can afford to gamble on Sullinger and give him nights off if his back acts up, and if he is healthy, Sullinger would be a perfect fit on this Denver team.
21 ) Boston Celtics (39-27) – Royce White (Forward) 6’8 240lbs Sophomore, Iowa State – We know now that the Celtics have promised Royce White that they will draft him if he is on the board at #21, and in this scenario he is. The beauty of making this promise to Royce White lies in the fact that the Celtics have back-to-back picks, and if another player who Boston covets slides unexpectedly to them, they can make good on their promise to draft White and still select that player with the #22 pick. White is clearly one of the most talented players in this draft class and he could easily be a steal when we look back on the draft five years from now. The only reason White is not a lottery pick is because of his well documented anxiety issues and fear of flying, however he really impressed scouts in interviews, and they are confident he will be able to overcome this issues. As I’ve said all along, I am more concerned that White is a tweener who is too small to play the four and not quick enough to play the three on the next level, than I am about his issues. I also would not be shocked if White is long gone by the time the 21st pick rolls around, but in this mock draft, the Celtics make good on their promise.
22 ) Boston Celtics via LA Clippers (40-26) – Fab Melo (Center) 7 feet, 274lbs Sophomore, Syracuse – 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. Melo struggled academically at Syracuse, but the Brazilian is new to the English language, and this has been his excuse for missing the NCAA tournament for academic reasons. Melo has gotten in shape and been very impressive during his recent workouts with NBA scouts, he is an excellent rebounder and shot blocker who can finish inside, and his giant presence would be a welcome in the middle for this aging Celtics team. Adding Melo would also allow Kevin Garnett (who is a free agent, but will either retire or return to Boston) some flexibility as he will no longer be forced to play center full time.
23 ) Atlanta Hawks (40-26) -Quincy Miller (Small Forward) 6’9 210lbs Freshman, Baylor – 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. Instead they draft an extremely skilled player who was considered a potential top ten pick entering the season, but he never found his niche at Baylor, likely because he was still recovering from a torn ACL, which he has still not recovered from 100%. The Hawks will likely make some trades this offseason, as their roster as presently constructed is good enough to make the playoffs, but not good enough to contend in the east. Miller is not ready to play a major role in the NBA yet, however the skill is there, and he could become a nice player for the Hawks down the road with some development.
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, he is often compared to a young David West, and the Cavs could use a player like him.
25 ) Memphis Grizzlies (41-25) -Marquis Teague (Point Guard) 6’2 178lbs Freshman, Kentucky – The Grizzlies are a deep veteran team, but really do not have anything at point guard behind Mike Conley, so drafting a young developmental guard with a high ceiling to back Conley up makes a lot of sense. Teague would have been a top ten pick if he went back to Kentucky for his sophomore year, he is a super quick guard who is great with the ball, however he needs to work on his jump shot. He could start off as a backup point guard, and may develop into a starter down the road with some seasoning, a good project for this veteran group to take on in Memphis.
26 ) Indiana Pacers (42-24) – Tony Wroten Jr. (Guard) 6’5 205lbs Freshman, Washington – The Indiana Pacers are a pretty loaded young team, and clearly their top priority this offseason is keeping restricted free agent center Roy Hibbert. You get the feeling that the Pacers will try to trade some of their depth for a big time scorer, but besides that they do not have a lot of needs and can afford to attempt to catch lightning in a bottle by selecting Wroten Jr. There is little doubt that Wroten Jr. 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. Why did Celtics All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo slide on draft night? Because he couldn’t shoot and had a bad attitude. Wroten Jr. is not the elite defender that Rondo was as a draft prospect, but he is bigger, and they have similar knocks that are causing them to slide. Maybe the Pacers can turn Wroten Jr. into an elite player, the base for it is there.
27 ) Miami Heat (46-20) – Jeff Taylor (Small Forward) 6’7 225lbs Senior, Vanderbilt – The Heat look like they are about to win the 2011-2012 NBA Title, and we know their goal is to get as many role players as possible who do not need the ball, and can support their “Big Three” of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh so they can continue to win multiple NBA Titles. In this scenario the Heat get a perfect fit, I think Taylor has ten-year NBA Role player written all over him. He is an excellent defensive player and strong character guy with a high basketball IQ who can knock down open shots with accuracy. If he can develop into the type of smart, savvy player who can knock down open shots and thinks defense first, he would be an ideal fit for this team, he would have the perfect mentor in Shane Battier.
28 ) Oklahoma City Thunder (47-19) – Evan Fournier (Shooting Guard) 6’7 206lbs, France – The Thunder are the best young team in the league, they were just not ready to win it all this season, and they will be back strong next year. This core of players is clearly talented enough to win it all, they were just not experienced enough, and it ended up costing them in the end. With good roster depth top to bottom, they can afford to draft a European prospect and stash him overseas for a few years as he matures, as general manager Sam Presti often did while employed by the San Antonio Spurs. Fournier is a good prospect, he is very long and athletic, but his jump shot needs work. The Thunder can afford to stash him in Europe for a few years as he continues to develop, and bring him over in the future, when he is ready to contribute.
29 ) Chicago Bulls (50-16) – Will Barton (Shooting Guard) 6’5 165lbs Sophomore, Memphis – The most interesting rumor I am hearing right now is that the Chicago Bulls absolutely love Harrison Barnes, and are trying to trade way up in the draft in order to select him using small forward Luol Deng as trade bait. The Bulls would have to trade all the way into the top five to select Barnes, and this will be very difficult to do, I think they would have a better shot at moving Deng to the Warriors (#7) or the Raptors (#8) who are both in the market for a veteran small forward. I see no way that Barnes slides past Sacramento, who has the fifth pick. If the Bulls do not make a trade, a player that would fit nicely is Memphis shooting guard Will Barton, who is climbing draft boards. Barton needs to get stronger, but he is very athletic and has a nice mid-range game, and would fit nicely next to Derrick Rose. Barton is not yet the lights out outside shooter that the Bulls are looking for at the shooting guard spot, but he is a nice player who reminds me of a young Jamal Crawford. I would be mildly shocked if Barton lasts this long, I have seen him being drafted as early as the late teens following his impressive recent workouts.
30 ) Golden State Warriors via San Antonio Spurs (50-16) – Festus Ezeli (Center) 6’11 255lbs Senior, Vanderbilt – It is no secret that the Warriors are looking to get bigger and tougher in the paint this offseason, and if Andre Drummond does not fall to them with the seventh overall pick, they will have to either reach for a big man or look in another direction there (as they do in this mock, drafting Waiters) and grab Ezeli with the final pick of round one. Ezeli would be an immediate upgrade for many teams as a backup big man, he is a tough interior defender and rebounder who is experienced and knows how to score around the basket. Another option here would be Norfolk State center Kyle O’Quinn, who is listed below, and it depends on where they rank on Golden State’s big board.
JUST MISSED THE CUT:
Draymond Green (Small Forward) 6’6 235lbs Senior, Michigan State – I am a big fan of Draymond Green and have predicted him as a first round selection in most of my previous mock drafts, however due to his lack of an NBA position it makes it tough to find a fit for him. He is 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. I would not be surprised if a good team selected him late in the first round due to his unselfish nature and willingness as a rebounder.
Doron Lamb (Shooting Guard) 6’4 195lbs Sophomore, Kansas – I have had Doron Lamb in the first round of every previous mock draft, but am rethinking that stance, because of his lack of size for his position in the pros. Lamb is a great shooter who knows how to score, however he will have difficulty getting his shot off against the bigger guards at the next level, and this knocks him into the second round. Lamb would fit best as a shooter off of the bench on a team with a good point guard who can get him open looks.
Jared Cunningham (Shooting Guard) 6’5 194lbs Junior, Oregon State – Cunningham is a lengthy combo guard who is an incredible athlete and excels at getting to the rim. He is a great defensive player, except his shot runs hot and cold, and he needs to improve his consistency with his jumper. If Cunningham is able to improve his jump shot and add some strength, he has a chance to be a nice player, he is an explosive athlete.
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.
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.
Miles Plumlee (Center) 7′ 250lbs Senior – Duke – I have found it hard to believe, but Plumlee has shot up draft boards though out this process, as he measured bigger than expected and tested as one of the most athletic players in this draft. He is not a good offensive player, but he is tough and physical with an excellent motor, who will be a valuable reserve in the NBA. I see him as one of those guys that practices so hard every day it annoys his teammates, and that is a good thing.
Mike Scott (Power Forward) 6’9 241lbs Senior – Virginia – A player that really impressed scouts in workout after outplaying some much higher ranked players, Scott has a chance to be drafted later in the first round, he is a nice inside/outside player who is a great rebounder and can even step outside and hit the three. He could be a nice player off the bench, and if he slides into the second round, it will not be long until his name is called.
Orlando Johnson (Shooting Guard) 6’5 224lbs Senior – UC Santa Barbara – I doubt he gets selected in the first round, but Johnson has prototypical NBA size for a shooting guard, and he is a very good shooter and scorer. He could be a second round steal, he is a great athlete with a good motor and an excellent rebounder for a guard. Should stick in the NBA for a long time as a backup shooting guard, but might become much more.
Kim English (Shooting Guard) 6’6 192lbs Senior – Missouri – A player who has really risen up draft boards and now has a shot to sneak into late round one, English has wowed scouts with his shooting, and his prototypical NBA size. I would not be shocked if teams who have players that command double teams (Miami, Chicago) consider English in the first round, because of his ability to knock down open threes. As a catch and shoot player, he might be the best in the draft.
This is my FINAL 2012 NBA Mock Draft, so if anyone trades their picks, I will update it according.
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