On May 30th we will have the NBA Draft Lottery to determine the final order of selections in the NBA Draft, which takes place on June 28th. The Draft Lottery determines the top three picks in the draft, with the worst team in the league (in this case the horrible Charlotte Bobcats, by a mile) having the best chance of winning the lottery and landing the first pick in the draft, and each subsequent awful team having less of a chance. What I’m getting at here is the draft order is not final, but I’m releasing mock draft 1.0 anyway, with the worst three teams landing the top three picks. I would also like to add that there have always been rumors that the NBA Draft lottery is fixed, and if it is, the Brooklyn Nets (who made the horrible decision to trade their first round pick (top three protected) to Portland) will land in the top three. If it does, they keep the pick, if not it goes to Portland. On to the mock draft:
1) Charlotte Bobcats (7-59) -Anthony Davis (Power Forward/Center) Freshman, Kentucky - The Bobcats are by far the most dismal franchise in the NBA, and it is not close, they have no players on their roster who I even consider potential future All Stars and the horizon looks bleak. This would all change if they were able to land Kentucky big man Anthony Davis, although I do not think he is a franchise savior who will turn things around instantly, he would absolutely be a step in the right direction. Davis is not a major scoring threat, but he is extremely athletic and has good hands, he will instantly upgrade rebounding and interior defense in Charlotte. He needs to add bulk and refine his offensive game, and the Bobcats will still need to eventually find a go-to scorer, but Davis would be a great franchise cornerstone, which this team desperately needs.
2) Washington Wizards (20-46) -Bradley Beal (Shooting Guard) Freshman, Florida - The Wizards are a team that is loaded with talented, but immature players, lead by point guard John Wall. If they end up with the second pick in the draft, they will have a decision to make between drafting Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal and Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Glichrist. Gilchrist is a superior athlete and defender, and I have him ranked as a slightly better prospect, but the Wizards already have a logjam at the small forward position which gets worse if they select Kidd-Gilchrist. Beal is a better offensive player at the present time and is a far superior shooter than Kidd-Gilchrist, so he is a better complement to Wall (who is more of an athlete than a shooter), and fills a hole in the backcourt. 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. With Beal knocking down jumpshots and three pointers, the court is suddenly opened up for all of Washington’s elite athletes, and things get better quickly for the Wizards.
3) Cleveland Cavaliers (21-45) -Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Small Forward) Freshman, Kentucky -The Cavs scored big in the 2011 draft lottery, when they landed the first and fourth overall picks, and grabbed point guard Kyrie Irving (who will be named 2012 NBA Rookie of the year today) and power forward Tristan Thompson, and the post Lebron James future in Cleveland looks bright. The Cavs would love to add to their young nucleus, and would happily select Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist third overall, a player that would give the team the pure athleticism that they currently lack. Kidd-Gilchrist is a lockdown defensive player who can run the floor, and while his jump shot needs consistency, he has an extremely high ceiling. He is also one of the hardest workers out there, and he would be a huge addition to the Cavs young roster. I would not be shocked if he becomes the best NBA player out of this draft class when all is said and done.
4) New Orleans Hornets (21-45) -Andre Drummond (Center/Power Forward) Freshman, Connecticut -The Hornets are entering full rebuilding mode, and need players who have the talent to develop into franchise cornerstones, they cannot afford a miss. Drummond did not produce as expected at UConn during his freshman year, however he is extremely physically gifted at 6’11 275lbs with freakish athleticism, and he can become an elite big man in the NBA with some time to develop. The Hornets are a long way away from being competitive on a nightly basis, and they have some time to develop this big man, and can give him minutes right away. Drummond should be putting up big numbers within three years in New Orleans, he passes the eye test with flying colors, and he will continue to rise up draft boards as the process continues.
5) Sacramento Kings (22-44) -Harrison Barnes (Guard/Forward) Sophomore, North Carolina - 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. I think what they really need is a pure point guard who knows how to run a team, however none are worth taking here, and in this scenario they have to decide between Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson or Barnes. The Kings have plenty of big men, and it may be easier for Barnes to help them immediately than Robinson, he can put the ball in the basket and is better suited for the NBA game than college.
6) Portland Trail Blazers via Brooklyn Nets (22-44) - Thomas Robinson (Power Forward) Junior, Kansas - The Blazers dream scenario 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.
7) Golden State Warriors (23-42) -Perry Jones III (Forward) Sophomore, Baylor - Golden State did an embarrassing job of tanking to make sure they kept this draft pick, because it is top seven protected, and if it fell out of the top seven it would have been sent to the Utah Jazz. Now, as long as no team above them leapfrogs them into the top three of the lottery, they keep the pick. We know that the Warriors desperately want to get bigger, tougher and more defensively oriented, I considered having them reach for a big man here (Henson, Sullinger) however their acquisition of Andrew Bogut via trade made this unnecessary. Instead they select Jones, who is clearly the best player available and one of the most physically gifted players on the board with a high ceiling. I am not sure that he will ever fulfill his potential, and he is a tweener between small and power forward (really has a shooting guard’s game with power forward size), however his skills are undeniable and he could become a star down the road if he works hard and develops.
8) Toronto Raptors (23-43) -Kendall Marshall (Point Guard) Sophomore, North Carolina - The Raptors will hope that either Barnes or Jones falls to them with this pick, however in this scenario, both of those players are gone. 2012 will be a big season for the Raptors, as they will also get their 2011 first round (5th overall) draft pick, Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas who has been playing well overseas. The Raptors need a true point guard, and in this scenario they grab Marshall, who is the best pure point guard in the draft. While he is not a scorer he is an excellent passer and floor general who knows how to run an offense and can get the ball to Toronto’s offensive options.
9) Detroit Pistons (25-41) - Jared Sullinger (Power Forward) Sophomore, Ohio 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. They would consider North Carolina’s John Henson or Tyler Zeller here, however Sullinger just seems like the right fit and the Pistons seem like the ideal team for him. The Pistons are a franchise that has always been built on toughness around the rim and rebounding, and the current incarnation of the team sorely lacks these attributes. Sullinger may be a little undersized for the NBA, and he is not a great athlete, but he is an excellent rebounder and has a great touch around the basket. He would also add competitiveness and toughness, which this team needs in the worst way.
10) New Orleans Hornets via Minnesota Timberwolves (26-40) -Damian Lillard (Point Guard) Junior, Weber State - The Hornets have two picks in the top ten, which is good news for the organization, which is in full rebuilding mode. If they elect to select a big man early, in this scenario it was Andre Drummond, they grab a point guard here. Lillard is a solid point guard who can also shoot, it will be interesting to see the way that the point guards come off of the board on draft night, because he and Kendall Marshall grade very closely. If the Hornets are able to keep shooting guard Eric Gordon and drafts well around him, you can begin to see a glimmer of hope for this usual cellar dwelling franchise.
11) Portland Trail Blazers (28-38) -Tyler Zeller (Center) Senior, North Carolina - Portland is another team that has likely has the luxury of two lottery picks, as long as the Nets pick does not land in the top three, which would be fantastic for their rebuilding effort. The Blazers have a lot of depth at guard, but lack a true center, and although they already selected Thomas Robinson in this scenario they need a true big man in the middle. Zeller will never be a star in the NBA, but he has size (7 feet, 235lbs) and can score in multiple ways in the paint, which is sorely needed in Portland.
12) Milwaukee Bucks (31-35) - John Henson (Power Forward/Center) Junior, North Carolina - Milwaukee needs help inside, and although they already have a few players in a similar mold (Udoh, Sanders), Henson would immediately become the best of the bunch. With players like Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis on the roster, the Bucks do not need anyone who is looking to shoot the ball, and Henson can provide shot blocking, rebounding and length inside in Milwaukee. Since they traded Andrew Bogut to the Warriors, they really lack a defensive presence in the middle, and Henson could fill that hole right away.
13) Phoenix Suns (33-33) - Austin Rivers (Shooting Guard) Freshman, Duke - When I think of the most poorly 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 Rivers. He is the son of an NBA coach (Doc Rivers) and has a high basketball IQ and knows how to finish at the rim, he needs to continue developing his game, but he has potential star power down the road and name recognition. The Suns fan base needs a reason to look forward to the future and a flashy prospect like Rivers would provide that.
14) Houston Rockets (34-32) -Arnett Moultrie (Power Forward) Junior, Mississippi State - A hot prospect right now, who may be selected long before this slot, Moultrie is currently rising up draft boards. The more scout study him, the more they like his game, and he has great size (6’11 225lbs) for his position in the NBA. While he must get stronger, the Rockets have been searching for a big man with a similar set of skills for a few years. While they drafted Marcus Morris out of Kansas last season, he is more of a small-power forward tweener who likes to shoot jump shots, and they need a player like Moultrie who can contribute inside. The Rockets have been collecting assets for years, 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.
END OF LOTTERY (The Draft Now Switches To Playoff Teams Based On Record)
15) Philadelphia 76ers (35-31) -Jeremy Lamb (Shooting Guard) 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 arguably the best shooter 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. The 76ers could be getting a major steal if Lamb is still on the board this later in the draft, he would fill their biggest need.
16) Houston Rockets via New York Knicks (36-30) - Dion Waiters (Shooting Guard) Sophomore, Syracuse - In this scenario, the Rockets have already drafted Arnett Moultrie, and now can upgrade their backup shooting guard spot (behind Kevin Martin) with another talent young prospect. Although Waiters is not a great shooter yet, he is a good athlete with a knack and getting to the basket and is a strong finisher. 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 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.
17) Dallas Mavericks (36-30) -Terrence Jones (Forward) 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) - Terrence Ross (Shooting Guard) Sophomore, Washington - This seems like the perfect fit, as the Wolves desperately need a shooting guard who can hit three pointers with some consistency, and that could be the area where Ross excels the most. He has the ideal frame for the position in the NBA (6’6 190lbs) and Wesley Johnson is simply not a good enough shooter to play the two in the NBA. The Wolves have one of the most exciting young teams in the NBA and are clearly headed in the right direction, and the addition of a sharpshooter like Ross would be the perfect addition.
19) Orlando Magic (37-29) - Quincy Miller (Small Forward) Freshman, Baylor - 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. Miller is extremely talented, but unpolished, and should have stayed at Baylor to hone his skills. He needs more development and work on his game, but if he improves, he could be a steal down the road and part of the future in Orlando.
20) Denver Nuggets (38-28) - Tony Wroten Jr. (Guard) 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 (6’5 205lbs) and can get to the basket, however he needs a lot of work on his jump shot. 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) 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. 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) - Moe Harkless (Small Forward) Freshman, St. John’s - 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. Harkless is a great athlete, who can run the floor with point guard Rajon Rondo in Boston, and will be an elite defender on the next level. He needs to become more consistent with his jump shot, like many freshman do, however he is a great prospect this late in the first round.
23) Atlanta Hawks (40-26) - Fab Melo (Center) Sophomore, Syracuse - The Hawks really need to find a reliable point guard, 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 big (7 feet, 274lbs) 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.
24) Cleveland Cavilers via LA Lakers (41-25) - Doron Lamb (Shooting Guard) Junior, Kansas - In this scenario, the Cavs already selected Michael Kidd- Gilchrist third overall, although many experts seem to think he will be the second pick, and the Cavs will take Bradley Beal third overall. Here, the Cavs filled their hole at small forward with Kidd-Gilchrist and grab a shooting guard at 24th overall in Lamb, who can knock down the open jumper. Suddenly, the Cavs have a very young but talented core going forward, and they should improve dramatically by the start of next season.
25) Memphis Grizzlies (41-25) -Draymond Green (Small Forward) 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) 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.
27) Miami Heat (46-20) - Royce White (Forward) 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, 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) 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) - John Jenkins (Shooting Guard) Junior, Vanderbilt - The Bulls desperately need a shooting guard and have for years, and they find a good prospect this late in the draft with Jenkins, who has very deep range on his jumper. Jenkins is not an elite athlete, and will never be great going to the basket, however he may have been the best shooter in college basketball last season and is a good get for Chicago.
30) Golden State Warriors via San Antonio Spurs (50-16) - Will Barton (Shooting Guard) 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 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.
JUST MISSED THE CUT:
Evan Fournier, Shooting Guard -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 (6’7 205lbs) but needs to get stronger and improve his jumper, best at going to the basket.
Tyshon Taylor, Point Guard -Kansas - The 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 (6’3 185lbs), 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.
Andrew Nicholson, Power Forward - St. Bonaventure - The skilled senior has a nice inside outside game, and has an NBA body at 6’9 225lbs. Teams will start to consider him late in the first round, he did not regularly play against top competition, but played well when he did. Should be a solid contributor as a reserve player in the NBA.
Scott Machado, Point Guard - 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 (6’1 180lbs) and is not an excellent athlete, however he is a heady player, who projects as a solid reserve point guard.
Festus Ezeli, Center - Vanderbilt - I almost gave Ezeli to Golden State with the final pick of the first round, we know they want to get bigger and tougher on the glass, while improving defensively and Ezeli can bring all of that. He has good size (6’11 255lbs) 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. Could sneak into the last few picks of round one for a team that needs toughness on the interior
OTHER 2012 NBA MOCK DRAFTS: