Final 2012 NBA mock draft
With the real thing about to start Thursday night, here's our last look at how we expect the first round to unfold.
(Note: Several teams don't have first-round picks because of trades.)
Davis gives the Hornets and their new ownership a face of the franchise and optimism for the future. He oozes upside. And while he may not be an immediate star at the NBA level, many talent evaluators see a potential superstar in the making. His jaw-dropping physical attributes combined with a high motor should allow him to overcome a lack of physical strength. If there is a "savior" in this draft, it's Davis.
2. Charlotte: Bradley Beal, 6-4, SG, Florida
Odds are a team like Cleveland moves up to No. 2 for Beal. If the Bobcats keep the pick, they will likely take Thomas Robinson. The hype around Beal is pretty phenomenal considering he never really broke out on the college level. He has been compared to Eric Gordon, but lacks the strength and explosiveness the former Hoosier showed in high school and college. But the 6-foot-4 Beal has a more well-rounded game. More than just a spot-up threat, he can change directions, pull back and shoot off the dribble. He's also an excellent passer for a shooting guard.
3. Washington: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 6-7, SF, Kentucky
The Wizards would love to add Beal, but if they aren't able to get him, will likely settle for MKG. Kidd-Gilchrist was as good as any college player last year (including Davis), but he may get drafted too high and the expectations will be difficult for him to fulfill. He lacks tremendous upside due to the offensive shortcomings that come with the mechanical kinks he has in his shot. He made less than 20 percent of his jump shots at Kentucky. A strong forward with substantial length (7-foot wingspan) and athleticism, Gilchrist projects as a shutdown defender at the 3 position.
4. Cleveland: Thomas Robinson, 6-10, PF, Kansas
Robinson doesn't make sense to Cleveland, but we feel that a trade is likely here with Charlotte moving back and adding the Cavs' 24th pick. The Jayhawk standout really impressed scouts this season with his added face-the-basket skills. He played with great energy all season, and there is no questioning his heart. Scouts just question how much potential he has.
5. Sacramento: Andre Drummond, 6-10, PF/C, UConn
Sacramento doesn't have a need for a center with DeMarcus Cousins, but there's a good chance another team moves up for Drummond, the biggest boom-or-bust pick in the draft. He has incredible talent, but questionable focus and passion for the game. An absolute physical specimen, there isn't a prospect on the high school/college level even close to matching his physical attributes (strength/athleticism). Unfortunately, his motor runs hot and cold, and his body language is not great, leaving many wondering whether he will live up to his vast potential.
After having one of the best workouts ever in front of Portland scouts, he appears to be locked in at the sixth pick. Lillard is the top PG available this year. While his point-guard abilities are debatable, Lillard is a tremendous athlete with size and a wet jump shot. He's a late bloomer who has a work ethic many high-profile prospects are lacking.
7. Golden State: Harrison Barnes, 6-8, SF, North Carolina
If Drummond falls to them, he's a possibility, as is Dion Waiters. The Warriors would be incredibly lucky to have Barnes slip this far, but it probably only happens if a couple of trades take place in front of them. Barnes is a solid individual, and while he may lack great leadership abilities he is definitely a team player. After Anthony Davis, Barnes might be the surest bet in the entire draft class. With good size and a high, clean release on his jumper, Barnes should excel at the next level in catch-and-shoot situations.
8. Toronto: Austin Rivers, 6-5, PG/SG, Duke
Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo is focused on taking a SG here with Rivers, Waiters and Jeremy Lamb all in the mix. Rivers is a combo who some teams might envision playing the point, but probably will be more effective as a 2. He measured well at 6-foot-5 and is such an intense competitor and cerebral decision-maker that it's difficult to imagine him becoming a bust. He's a gym rat who will outwork the competition. If he can develop into a PG, he could be a steal.
It's possible Joe Dumars will opt for a center like Meyers Leonard or Tyler Zeller here, but the logic is that they would like to pair a shot-blocking 4 with Greg Monroe playing the 5. Henson showed a lot of improvement between his sophomore and junior seasons. His length and energy make him a disruptive presence on the defensive end of the floor, and a solid rebounder despite lacking great strength.
10. New Orleans: Jeremy Lamb, 6-5, SG, UConn
If Rivers is here he's likely the pick, but New Orleans is said to be extremely high on Lamb with Waiters another possibility. Lamb has more potential than Beal, but his disappearing act last season has left his stock in doubt. Lamb was unable to take over for Kemba Walker as the team's much-needed vocal leader. He needs to get tougher both mentally and physically.
11. Portland: Tyler Zeller, 6-11, PF/C, North Carolina
Zeller and Leonard are both possibilities here, but new Blazers GM Neil Olshey knows owner Paul Allen will not put up with losing for long. So after grabbing a young PG at No. 6, taking the more NBA-ready Zeller probably makes more sense. Though Zeller has had injury concerns, he runs the floor exceptionally well and has a nice package of size and skills.
What are the odds Houston is actually making this pick by the time this selection comes up? Waiters is rumored to have a promise after shutting down workouts, and Phoenix has long been the rumored team, but Houston, or another team moving back, could grab him here at No. 12. Some scouts have fallen in love with his strength, aggressiveness and ability to create offense off the dribble, while others see a player lacking a true position.
13. Phoenix: Terrence Ross, 6-6, SG, Washington
Phoenix may be the team that promised Waiters, but they would likely be thrilled if they end up with Ross, a talent with a legitimate chance to be the top wing prospect from this year's draft class. He's had tremendous workouts and received an invite for the green room, indicating he's a likely top-15 selection. Ross is dangerous from outside, where he sports a clean release and sweet rhythm in catch-and-shoot opportunities.
14. Milwaukee: Meyers Leonard, 7-0, C, Illinois
After moving back, the Bucks would love to see a big man with excellent potential like Leonard fall to them. He lacks the NBA readiness and polish of someone like Zeller, but without question he has more upside. Leonard remains a work in progress and would have benefited from another year of development in college, but he's a fluid big man with great size and the ability to add strength. There's a real chance he will end up realizing his potential in his second contact, with his second team.
The Sixers are sitting in a great spot with the first non-lottery pick after making a nice run in the playoffs. They went big with Nikola Vucevic last year and could look to bolster their frontcourt once again with a player like Moultrie. One of the most athletic bigs in the country, Moultrie is a force on the glass and scores in a variety of ways. The two big complaints about him are his attitude and lack of strength.
16. Houston: Moe Harkless, 6-8, SF, St. John's
This pick could very easily be made by another team and there's a good chance it's by a team that has moved back. Harkless is not expected to have an immediate impact, but could ultimately end up one of the top-10 players from this draft class. His length and fluidity remind some of Paul George, although he can't shoot it like the current Pacer. He has a 7-foot-2 wingspan, though, and runs the floor like a gazelle.
Jones could potentially blend well with Dirk Nowitzki as an athletic combo forward. According to scouts, he could be one of the draft's real sliders because of major concerns that he won't realize his vast potential. On highlights alone, you would think he is a future perennial All-Star. He's got size, speed, athleticism and the ability to shoot. But he always leaves you wanting more, never seeming able to play up to his abilities when it matters most.
18. Houston: Marquis Teague, 6-2, PG, Kentucky
We hear Houston is targeting Teague, although they may not ultimately own this pick. He is likely to end up somewhere in the 18-25 range regardless. Teague struggled as a floor general at times at UK, but he came through when it mattered with a solid showing in the tourney. He has ideal physical tools for a point guard, possessing size, quickness and explosiveness along with a "ball on a string" handle.
19. Orlando: Andrew Nicholson, 6-9, PF, St. Bonaventure
Orlando is very high on Nicholson, but could also opt for Jared Sullinger here. Nicholson is a late bloomer with a lot of upside left, despite being a senior. He came on late in the season, leading the Bonnies to a surprise NCAA bid. He's a bright kid and high-character guy who, despite looking robotic running the floor, has good athleticism and a developing skill set.
20. Denver: Kendall Marshall, 6-4, PG, North Carolina
The Nuggets will likely let Andre Miller go in free agency and would love to see Marshall fall to them. He is possibly the best passer college basketball has seen since Jason Kidd. Marshall's ability to find teammates and create shots for them is special. He also has a tremendous feel for the game and has the type of natural point guard instincts that just can't be learned. Still, his shortcomings athletically, defensively and as a scorer make him less than a sure thing.
21. Boston: Terrence Jones, 6-8, SF, Kentucky
The Celtics should have a couple of very solid players fall to them. Jones has top-10 talent, but struggled with consistency and focus. He seems to play with a chip on his shoulder and a scowl on his face. Jones has the versatility to play either forward position and is an aggressive rebounder, but the drawback is that he isn't a natural fit at either position. While lacking great shooting mechanics, he is an effective scorer attacking the basket as well as from the perimeter.
22. Boston: Royce White, 6-8, SF, Iowa State
Boston is said to be high on White, but it's uncertain if a promise was the true reason White shut down his workouts. Doron Lamb is another name linked to the Celtics. White has major talent, but the concerns about his anxiety disorder are likely to drop him to the late first/early second round area. Scouts also question his shooting and ability to fit a position. He's a unique player, as he's a beast with great strength with the ability to handle and pass like a guard.
23. Atlanta: Jared Sullinger, 6-10, PF, Ohio State
Sullinger could be one of the big sliders on draft night after NBA doctors red-flagged his back. He began the year as a projected top-five pick, but failed to show much progress in his sophomore season and doubts began to creep in scouts' minds about his upside and dedication to staying in shape. On the other hand, he has an extremely polished post game and led the Buckeyes to the Final Four.
24. Cleveland: Draymond Green, 6-7, SF/PF, Michigan State
Sort of a poor man's Magic Johnson, Green has incredible ball-handling and passing skills for a 6-foot-7 forward. Draymond lacks a true NBA position and won't wow anyone with his athleticism, but his intangibles and basketball IQ are off the charts. He finds ways to beat opponents with craftiness and desire. Not everyone is sold on Green, but he's one of those players who seems to find a way and should grab a spot somewhere in the 20s.
25. Memphis: Fab Melo, 7-0, C, Syracuse
If he can become focused, Melo could potentially be a solid complement to Marc Gasol at center for the Grizzlies. He intrigues scouts with his size, mobility and shot-blocking ability. His offensive game is very raw, but at times he looked comfortable knocking down mid-range shots. He has potential, but may be a few years away from being a solid contributor.
26. Indiana: Evan Fournier, 6-7, SF, France
There is a lot of talk that Fournier will grab one of the late first-round spots, and Indiana is a team that is strongly considering taking him. While he's an under-the-rim type of player, he's considered a natural with an excellent feel for the game and the ability to create shots and pass. His shooting has been inconsistent, but does show potential. With the ability to draft him and stash him in Europe for a few seasons, his value increases.
27. Miami: Will Barton, 6-6, SG/SF, Memphis
The Heat are one of several teams in the late first round that like Barton. While some scouts aren't sold on him, the scrappy Barton has been on the move lately, according to GMs and scouts. He's a high energy/effort player with an unorthodox, yet effective game. His ability to create shots and hit the boards brings an element to the table that many other SG prospects are not able to match.
OKC could go in a number of directions, but Lamb would add versatility to its backcourt. His overall skill set was not fully utilized playing on such a loaded team, and it will likely make him a steal on draft night. He was arguably UK's most consistent performer this season, and he stepped up big in the tournament. He's a clutch performer, has underrated PG ability and is an excellent teammate.
29. Chicago: Quincy Miller, 6-9, SF, Baylor
The Bulls could use some depth on the wing and local product Miller could fall this far. Q was once considered a top-five player in a very strong high school class before tearing his ACL. He then looked like a shadow of his former self athletically as a freshman at Baylor. He's got a huge wingspan and the ability to knock down mid-range jumpshots. If his knee checks out completely in physicals, look for him to grab a spot in the 20s.
30. Golden State: Jeffery Taylor, 6-7, SF, Vanderbilt
After landing Barnes with the seventh pick, the Warriors could further bolster the small forward position by taking Taylor. His defensive ability is what teams are most intrigued with. Taylor grew up in Sweden as the son of a pro player. His feel for the game has been a work in progress, but he really turned the corner in his senior season.