2012 NBA Mock Draft (v1)- January 10, 2012
Washington has it's franchise cornerstone in John Wall, but outside of him, the team is still floundering. JaVale McGee, Jordan Crawford, and Nick Young are exciting, but none of them has shown the ability to contribute to a winner. Similarly, Andray Blatche puts up decent numbers, but he's a bit of a headcase. The Wizards really need to find another superstar to pair with Wall, and fellow Kentucky Wildcat Anthony Davis could be just that. Davis isn't a finished product, especially offensively, but his athleticism, length, and defense prowess have him in line to be the top overall pick.
Charlotte needs help at almost every position, but what they need most is a go-to scorer. Barnes has the skills to be just that. The North Carolina sophomore projects as the best scoring small forward in the NBA not named LeBron James or Kevin Durant. There's also the fact that Barnes and Bobcats' owner Michael Jordan have Carolina Blue in common.
Drummond is an extremely exciting young prospect. He has great size and elite defensive skills, which would make him a great fit next to a finesse forward like Greg Monroe. Detroit will also consider Baylor's Perry Jones with this pick, but with Austin Daye, Tayshaun Prince, and Jonas Jerebko already under contract at the small forward, a true center like Drummond makes more sense. He won't be an impact player right away, but the Pistons are still in rebuilding mode, and the long-term payoff will be well worth the risk.
If the Hornets and Timberwolves continue to struggle, New Orleans could be in a very enviable position come draft night. There are considered to be four elite prospects eligible for the 2012 draft, so landing Jones III (who some consider a potential number one pick) at number four would be a great value. Jones has been inconsistent throughout his time at Baylor, but has shown real flashes of brilliance in his sophomore season. He has great length and athleticism, but doesn't have a defined position at the next level. This isn't too worrisome for the Hornets, who have a need at both the three and the four.
Some may consider this a reach for the Wildcat freshman, but Kidd-Gilchrist has enormous potential. Especially on a fast-paced team with two established stars like the Warriors, Kidd-Gilchrist would really flourish. He is the type of player who can take over a game offensively when called on, but who can also have an effect on the game without the ball in his hands. Kidd-Gilchrist is a very good rebounder at the small forward, which would be a great fit for a team like Golden State, who regularly plays small.
After adding a high-potential slasher like Perry Jones, the Hornets will sure up their interior with Ohio State sophomore Jared Sullinger. While Jones has been inconsistent, Sullinger has been a model of consistency in his two years at Ohio State. He doesn't have great athleticism or shooting ability, but he has a big body and a great knack for using it to create space down low. Sullinger's physical style will translate very well at the next level, and he may well be considered the steal of this draft when all is said and done. New Orleans would love to land a point guard with one of their first round picks, but this draft, for all its depth, is extremely thin at point guard. If the Hornets aren't sold on Sullinger, look for them to trade down or out entirely, while acquiring a starter-quality lead guard.
Jonas Valanciunas is a huge X factor for the Raptors franchise moving forward. If his size and physical style translate well in the NBA, he and Andrea Bargnani will make a very nice front court pair. If not, the Raptors will continue to toil in lottery infamy. DeMar DeRozan looks like he has a hold on the starting two guard job, and as discussed previously, there is no elite point guard talent in this draft, so a combo forward like Terrence Jones makes for a good fit north of the border. Jones is a very versatile offensive player, who should be able to factor immediately at the next level. He needs to become more consistent and add intensity defensively, but he should find himself in the middle of the lottery on draft night.
Deron Williams really holds the future of this franchise in his hands. If he decides to stay and is able to recruit another superstar to join him in Brooklyn, the Nets will have a chance. If he leaves, this team will have the number one pick in 2013. Marshon Brooks has been a revelation, but New Jersey still has a lot of work to do to become the contender Mikhail Prokhorov envisioned when he bought the team. Kris Humphries has put up decent numbers, but New Jersey needs a legitimate physical presence down low whether Williams stays or not. Robinson has an NBA body and will be able to produce on both ends right from the start.
Milwaukee has been a fixture at or around the tenth pick in the lottery the last few years, but they'll need to improve on a slow start to land there again in 2012. The Bucks have had a need at shooting guard every since Michael Redd's injury problems began and this looks like a great opportunity to respond. Jeremy Lamb, Bradley Beal, and Austin Rivers will all be in contention for being the first two guard off the board, but Lamb should be the choice. He is a consistent and efficient scorer, and a proven winner. Rivers may have more upside, and Beal may be a better ball handler, but a player like Lamb will provide a better fit next to Brandon Jennings.
The Kings find themselves in an interesting situation. They are a team with a myriad of young talent, especially in the back court. The trouble is, at this point in the draft, the best players on the board are shooting guards. If the draft plays out this way, look for the Kings to try to move up, perhaps for Sullinger. If they hold onto the pick, reaching for a big man seems like the only option. John Henson has been an excellent shot blocker and defensive presence for three years at North Carolina and has shown steady improvement in his offensive game. He is very coachable and has high upside, making him worthy of a reach at the end of the top ten.
Beal is the best player on the board at this point, and he also fills a need for the Suns. He is arguably the best outside shooter in the country, and he's a better ball handler than he gets credit for. There are three really good shooting guard prospects in this class and they're all unique. Watching these guys play against one another in pre-draft workouts will be a real treat. Beal has great upside and could end up returning to the Gators for his sophomore season, but if he does come out, he's a surefire lottery pick.
Miller has been very good for an undefeated Baylor team. He is sort of a forgotten man because of they hype surrounding PJ3, but Miller has a very high ceiling. He is very athletic, but will need some time to mature and grow into his athletic skills. Houston, with two of the next four picks is able to take a bit of a gamble with this pick.
Memphis would be delighted with his scenario. O.J. Mayo has worn out his welcome with the Grizzlies, and as good as Tony Allen was in last year's playoffs, he is far from a long term fix as the first team off guard. Rivers has superstar potential, and landing a player of his caliber at number 13 is too good to pass up.
Zeller has great size, but limited athleticism and upside. Cleveland has a ton of point guards and combo forwards, but really needs a true center. Zeller could be Big Z 2.0 in Cleveland.
Houston would consider drafting a guy like Young with their first pick because of his physicality and athleticism. Sure, they drafted Marcus Morris in the '11 draft, but Young is a very different player. He will excel running the floor with athletic players like Kyle Lowry and Quincy Miller.
Minnesota has a glaring need at shooting guard. They would love to move up and land Austin Rivers or Bradley Beal, and may consider moving Michael Beasley in order to get it done. If those players are off the board, look for the Wolves to pick either Buford, a well-rounded scorer from Ohio State, or Doron Lamb from Kentucky.
Dallas has been one of the biggest disappointments in the league so far this season, but they should rebound to make the playoffs. The Mavs biggest issue is the lack of a defensive presence on the inside, a role in which Tyson Chandler excelled during the team's championship run. Unfortunately, there isn't really that type of player on the board at this range, so the Mavs could look to go the BPA route. Lamb is a very accomplished scorer and a good outside shooter. He is very effective at getting to the rim and finishing at the basket, but needs to improve his ball handling and defense in order to justify this pick.
The Lakers drafted a young point guard in Darius Morris last year, but Morris has yet to see the floor this season. Derek Fisher is well beyond his prime, and this fact has been highlighted by the team's transition out of the triangle offense. Teague is widely considered the best point guard prospect in this class, so the Lakers will take him if he's on the board.
Thomas has great size and strength for a player with his physical skills. He may be a bit of a Jeff Green clone, but until we see Green play again, I'm willing to overlook his presence on the C's roster. The bottom line is that the Celtics need young players who can affect a game. Thomas can do just that, as he has the highest upside of anyone on the board.
Leonard has been the biggest riser in the country so far this season, and given his seven-foot stature, he has a legitimate shot at landing in the first round, if not the lottery. At this point, he's still a flash in the pan, so his performance the rest of the season will be a huge factor in his draft stock. For now, consider him a top 20 or 25 pick. The Nuggets are a team with a lot of depth and without a true center, which makes them a perfect fit for a high-upside big man like Leonard.
Jeff Teague has been good, but not great, in his first year as a starter. Marshall is far and away the best passer in the nation, although he clearly has some holes in his game. The Hawks could look to replace Joe Johnson in the next year or two, so a wing like Terrence Ross or Tim Hardaway Jr. would make sense here also.
Orlando loves perimeter scorers, and Ross is just that. He is a decent shooter with great size. The Magic's trajectory clearly hinges on Dwight Howard's status with the team, so this pick could go a very different direction come draft day.
The 76ers are perhaps the biggest surprise in the league thus far, and it all starts with defense. Philly is surrendering just 85 points per game in their 6-2 start, good for tops in the league. Moultrie projects as another plus defender at the next level. He has good size and athletic ability and will be able to guard the two through the four.
Hardaway Jr. has been a steady peformer in his two seasons at Michigan. He isn't a consistent shooter, but he finds a way to affect the game when his shot isn't falling. Hardaway comes from an NBA pedigree and is a very hard worker. A core of Rajon Rondo, Hardaway Jr., Adonis Thomas, and Jeff Green would leave the Celtics in pretty good shape when the Big Three call it a career.
After the 76ers, Indiana is the league's next biggest surprise. The Pacers' young foundation is very promising, but depth on the perimeter is still a question mark. Middleton is tough and defensive-minded, and would be a nice change of pace from Danny Granger.
Kabongo is one of the three point guards with first round aspirations, and he plays locally at the University of Texas. Tony Parker has been excellent for the Spurs, but trading George Hill on Draft Day '11 leaves a hole at back up point guard. Kabongo could benefit from another year with the Longhorns, but if he declares, he'll likely land in the late first round.
Plumlee has been a real tease in his time at Duke. He shows flashes of brilliance, but struggles mightily at times. He is an excellent athlete, but a terrible free throw shooter. Portland, it seems, is always in need of front court depth, and Plumlee would be a decent value at this spot.
Unlike the 2011 draft, this year's first round will be largely devoid of international talent. There are five or six foreign players who could find there way into the latter half, but no lottery-level talents. Lima has a pretty good chance of landing in the late first because of his size and length. Lima is 6'10” with a 7'1” wingspan. He needs to add strength and refine his game, but the Thunder are able to take a bit of a risk considering the players they already have under contract.
Aldemir is a good rebounder with adequate size and athleticism. He needs to add bulk and polish his game quite a bit, but he's a decent fit on a championship contender like the Bulls.
Green has a very unique skill set for a player of his size. He projects as an undersized power forward at the next level because of his lack of foot speed, but he has very high basketball IQ and is an excellent passer. Miami has improved its bench, but still needs to add depth in the form of players who can make a real impact when the Big Three are on the bench. Green can do just this because he will create matchup difficulties at the next level.