CHAPEL HILL, NC - DECEMBER 21: Kendall Marshall #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels smiles after a pass against the Texas Longhorns during their game at Dean Smith Center on December 21, 2011 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
What happened when SB Nation's NBA team bloggers got together to mock up the 2012 NBA Draft?
More: Rumor Mill In High Gear
Oh my gosh, the 2012 NBA Draft will be here on Thursday! I haven't made up the guest room yet ... where are the linens? Has anyone seen the linens? The cat did what on them? Oh no, this is terrible, this is not good. I need you to take these to the cleaners on the way to work; I will not have Perry Jones III sleeping on stained sheets! Pick up 31 steaks on the way home ... why 31 instead of 30? Jared Sullinger is coming, dummy. JUST DO IT.
Oh hello everyone. Sorry, I'm a little frazzled because the 2012 NBA Draft will be here on Thursday. And Free Agency is coming on Sunday, what a busy week! Because I have so much to do, I decided to turn today's NBA Mock Draft over to my friends at SB Nation's NBA blogs. I hope they carry themselves with the grace and dignity you've come to expect from this NBA Mock Draft.
1. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS: ANTHONY DAVIS
Pick made by Rohan Cruyff of At The Hive
With the first pick, the SB Nation Hornets select Anthony Davis. /giggles uncontrollably.
2. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS: THOMAS ROBINSON
Pick made by Ben Swanson of Rufus on Fire
With the second pick of the 2012 NBA draft, the Charlotte Bobcats pick Thomas Robinson. I guess. Assuming they don't trade down, I think this is the way they have to go. They have a complete dearth of post scoring. Robinson adds that for them, as well as a really talented rebounder, which they need desperately for second-chance points and to help Biyombo, who can't box out every opponent. And frankly, he's probably the safest pick available. Rebounding usually translates really well from the college level to the pros, and his motor is ceaseless. Adding his hands and footwork and touch will make a nice complement to Biyombo's defensive strengths. It does complicate the matter depending on how the front office views Biyombo, though. I think he can play center, but if they feel he's more of a power forward, then there are other players available that have a little drop-off in immediate impact and higher ceilings than Robinson.
3. WASHINGTON WIZARDS: BRADLEY BEAL
Pick made by Mike Prada of Bullets Forever
With the third pick of the 2012 NBA draft, the Washington Wizards select Bradley Beal. The Wizards badly need a shooter and secondary initiator alongside John Wall, and Beal is perfect for that role. He has optimal size, can open up the playbook with his ability to run pick and roll and will create better spacing because he is a threat from deep. His movements are efficient offensively, even if his scoring wasn't at Florida. In that respect, he's the anti-Jordan Crawford.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the popular choice here because of his defense, leadership and position (small forward, where the Wizards are weakest), but the Wizards' biggest issue last year, especially after the trade for Nene, was perimeter shooting. Defensively, post-trade, they were actually pretty solid, all things considering. As for the leadership thing, it's very hard for a rookie to come in a chance a culture like Kidd-Gilchrist did at Kentucky. The Wizards though Wall would do that, and he hasn't. The NBA simply is a different game.
Bottom line: Beal does far more to attack the Wizards' weaknesses than Kidd-Gilchrist, and since neither has really distinguished himself as being far better than the other, I'm taking the guy who fits in best on the court.
4. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST
Pick made by Conrad Kaczmarek of Fear The Sword
Much has been said about the Cavaliers' interest in Harrison Barnes, but that is somewhat overblown. In this case, the Cavs will happily take Michael-Kidd Gilchrist with the fourth pick. We weren't really expecting MKG to fall this far as many consider him the second best player in the draft. With MKG, the Cavs get a tough, competitive player to fill one of their biggest holes. MKG adds much needed defense, athleticism and should help turn Cleveland into a winning culture. His ability to attack the rim and finish in transition is exactly what Kyrie Irving needs. Did we mention that MKG and Kyrie played high school basketball together? This seems like a no-brainer.
5. SACRAMENTO KINGS: HARRISON BARNES
Pick made by Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty
Y'all done messed up now, because with the fifth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings select Harrison Barnes. There are three things that the Kings sorely missed in 2011-12: defense (anywhere on the floor), deep shooting and a passable small forward. Barnes figures to fill two of those holes within a couple of years. He also allows Tyreke Evans to move back to the backcourt, where he's better-suited. If Jimmer Fredette finds his NBA range (and sticks with it), you have potentially two killer shooters available, a good balance for the team's pick-and-roll master (Isaiah Thomas) and slasher extraordinaire (Evans).
Drummond was not considered seriously here, and Jared Sullinger would have been before his back injury. John Henson is considered the official runner-up.
6. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: ANDRE DRUMMOND
Pick made by Dave Deckard of Blazers Edge
OK, fine. With the sixth pick the Portland Trail Blazers selected Andre Drummond, a.k.a. "The Leftovers". He's not a solid pick like the five made so far. He could bust. He's also a center, and he's going to Portland, so get your injury jokes out of the way now. Is he going to trip over a sidewalk crack and rupture his patella? Will he decapitate himself stepping off of the team plane? Spontaneously combust while trying Thai food for the first time? Plus this just about guarantees that the No. 7 pick will turn out to be a Hall-of-Famer and multi-year scoring champ. BUT... the Blazers need a center. This guy has size, agility, defensive skill, rebounding and plenty of upside. Maybe Portland finds its Andrew Bynum here. Even if not, somebody in the league is going to covet him. This move could set-up a trade in July. Drummond could look pretty attractive in a package once the market opens up.
7. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: DAMIAN LILLARD
Pick made by Nate P. of Golden State Of Mind
The GSoM community draft board has Lillard rated the highest of any one left on the board at this point so that's the pick we're making here.
His biggest asset in terms of a quality the Warriors currently is to be his ability to penetrate and score. He can shoot 3's and drive. In addition, with Stephen Curry's health concerns having someone who might be able to handle the ball and function as a lead ball handler makes someone who can fill that spot make sense, despite the ongoing desire for a big man. The fact that he's an Oakland native certainly doesn't hurt, but some might argue he's just the best player available.
8. TORONTO RAPTORS: DION WAITERS
Pick made by Adam Francis of Raptors HQ
Waiters was in a group of about four guys the Raps reportedly have an eye on, and with our top gun, Lillard, off the board, we turn to the Syracuse combo guard. Positionally he doesn't fit the gaping hole the Raptors have at the 3 spot, but in all honesty, this club needs all the help it can get regardless of position.
And in terms of upside, many believe Waiters could be one of the top players to come out of this draft when all is said and done. He's a bit undersized, but extremely strong, explosive and can get to the rim better than anyone in his draft class. He's even drawn comparisons to Dwyane Wade in this way, and considering the Raptors were second-last in the league in terms of free-throw differential last season, Waiters would be a nice boost.
It doesn't hurt that he also serves as a nice insurance policy should the team lose their current combo-guard, Jerryd Bayless, to free agency.
9. DETROIT PISTONS: JARED SULLINGER
Pick made by Mike Payne and Brian Packey of Detroit Bad Boys
If any team in the league has the training capacity to take on a developmental red flag like this one, it's the Detroit Pistons. If Sullinger's career does end early, in six or seven years, he may still outpace most draftees at the No. 9 spot.
While Sullinger does not present the above-the-rim, defensive shot blocker that would neutralize Greg Monroe's weaknesses, he might be serviceable enough to make for an average frontcourt defense. In terms of rebounding and frontcourt scoring, Sullinger might be the best option in the draft after Anthony Davis and Thomas Robinson. Detroit can do a whole lot worse at pick nine, but I can't see them doing any better than Jared Sullinger.
We can talk about Sullinger's size, lack of athleticism and his back all we want. At the end of the day, all he's ever done on court is flourish -- and that's a hard record to deny. Pass on a proven talent like this at your own Peril, Detroit.
10. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS: JEREMY LAMB
Pick made by Rohan Cruyff of At The Hive
11. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: AUSTIN RIVERS
Pick made by Dave Deckard of Blazers Edge
Well, the Blazers just got a big man project in Drummond at No. 6, and they have a power forward already. That makes selecting another big problematic. They should go best player available, but none of the remaining bigs stand out from the rest. Meyers Leonard is tempting. I'm not a huge Tyler Zeller guy, at least not this high. So in the end, we'll go for the backcourt gamble and select Austin Rivers from Duke at No. 11. I'm not in love with him, but he can score. Sadly, the folks ahead of us took the smaller players we would have coveted over Rivers. A nasty bunch of drafters, you are.
That means the Blazers have taken two big swings in this draft, throwing the dice each time. Neither Rivers nor Drummond is a guarantee. It's all about the upside. But the Blazers have all-around players in the rotation already to compensate for the growing pains of their two draftees. They also need to decide whether they're making a push forward or going into full rebuild mode. These picks fit in with that philosophy. Boom or bust. Go big or go home.
12. MILWAUKEE BUCKS: TERRENCE JONES
Pick made by Frank Madden of BrewHoop
In theory, the last thing the Bucks need is another guy who plays power forward, but the hope here is that Jones is more than just, well, another guy. While the Bucks have assembled a kaleidoscope of diverse, interesting and ultimately flawed four men over the past couple years, Jones' versatile skillset and NBA body give him a good chance to be the best of the bunch while still complementing the taller but offensively challenged Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders. Perhaps more importantly, bringing Jones aboard would offer an economically rational alternative to handing Ersan Ilyasova an eight figure annual salary over the summer, all while giving Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis a teammate capable of handling and finishing in the open court.
Not that Jones or anyone else at this slot is a no-brainer, and the Bucks will no doubt think long and hard about moving up into the top six or trading down. Meyers Leonard's frame and Tyler Zeller's polish offer solid arguments for either to fill the Bucks' gaping need for a center, Perry Jones' tremendous talents deserve consideration regardless of the frustration that comes with them, and an athletic shooter like Terrence Ross would offer cover in case the Bucks come to their senses and deal Monta Ellis before he can become a free agent next summer.
13. PHOENIX SUNS: TERRENCE ROSS
Pick made by Seth Pollack of Bright Side Of The Sun
The Phoenix Suns need a point guard regardless of where Steve Nash lays down on the sidelines while not in the game next season. They got burned by passing on Jrue Holliday, Darren Collison and Ty Lawson in favor of Earl Clark (and we won't mention the sold draft pick formerly known as Rajon Rondo) and they will likely get burned by passing on Kendall Mashall. But Terrrence Ross is too versatile to ignore. Defense. Shooting. Scoring. Upside. Everything Josh Childress is not. Point guard can wait until next year when the Suns have a higher pick.
14. HOUSTON ROCKETS: PERRY JONES III
Pick made by Tom Martin of The Dream Shake
Rockets take Perry Jones III. They need a big but they can snag Zeller, Leonard or Henson with the sixteenth pick depending on who the Sixers take, and they'll still be happy. Houston needs someone like Jones III to take them somewhere, either up or down. Here's hoping it's up, because as a SMALL FORWARD - yes, that's what he needs to play, primarily - he gives Houston a ton of length, athleticism and versatility on the outside. The Rockets have a number of one-note players; it would be nice to throw a do-many-things guy into the mix.
15. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: JOHN HENSON
Pick made by Michael Levin of Liberty Ballers
It's highly unlikely that John Henson won't go in the Lottery, but the Sixers will gleefully take the uber-long power forward from UNC in this faux-reality. Philly is lacking in a number of areas (most significant of them all being "talent", which I read somewhere was important) but none is more glaring than a low post presence and shotblocker. Spencer Hawes will be gone (I recommend excessive drug use to whoever's team signs him to $7M per), Elton Brand will likely be around for one more year, and Nikola Vucevic and Lavoy Allen don't figure to be anything more than solid backup bigs. Despite the lack of offensive refining to the 21-year-old Henson's game, he's too good to pass up at 15 and is pretty much exactly what they need.
Anything and everything depends on what the Sixers do with an Andre Iguodala trade (which will hopefully mean adding another pick), but regardless of what happens, Henson has a fannypack full of upside and fills a need. If he falls, the Sixers will be ecstatic. NOW FEED THAT MAN SOME CHEESESTEAKS.
16. HOUSTON ROCKETS: MEYERS LEONARD
Pick made by Tom Martin of The Dream Shake
I will bet all of you lots and lots of money that the Rockets don't keep the sixteenth pick, but sticking with the plan, let's make this pick Meyers Leonard. The Rockets need a big man, but they also have some sudden needs at point guard and shooting guard with Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin or both seemingly on the way out. At the same time, the Rockets need to make some boom or bust picks and Leonard could go a long way toward solving their problems at center. He's tall, he's got some good touch around the rim, he's athletic ... there's a lot to like. And he's only twenty years old.
Poor Tyler Zeller.
17. DALLAS MAVERICKS: TYLER ZELLER
Pick made by Mavs Moneyball
He has some wrinkles (who doesn't at this point in the draft?), but he's a legitimate seven-footer who rebounds, runs the floor like a gazelle and can shoot it out to 18 feet. A smart guy who played four years at a mega-program, he's as experienced and ready to play as any guy in the draft. If Dallas decides to keep fellow Tar Heel Brendan Haywood, Zeller might be a terrific platoon partner, since his strengths (good hands, soft touch) perfectly compliment Big Wood's weaknesses. My hope would be that Meyers Leonard or one of those athletic wing players would fall, but if they don't, Zeller is a fine consolation prize.
18. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: FAB MELO
Pick made by Stop-n-Pop of Canis Hoopus
Syracuse players. They are apparently addictive in some circles. One might think that with a roster that contains zero real shooting guards and no productive small forwards, that would lead the person in charge of said roster to, you know, get a wing player. That would be wrong. David Kahn has repeatedly said that his team needs to add another big, preferably someone who can run the floor, rebound and play some defense. Maybe the 2013 Orangeman class will have a good wing player that Wolves fans can get excited for.
19. ORLANDO MAGIC: KENDALL MARSHALL
Pick made by Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post
The Magic have just one point guard with a guaranteed contract for 2012-13: Chris Duhon, who's proven not to be worth playing major minutes at the NBA level. Even if Jameer Nelson returns, the Magic need a young point guard whom they can groom to one day replace Nelson, who'll turn 31 in February, as Nelson continues his natural devolution into latter-years Mike Bibby.
Marshall is, by all accounts, the best pure point guard in the draft. His ability to run an offense is unparalleled in this class. His poor scoring and defensive instincts scarcely matter to a Magic team low on young talent and on distributors.
Kendall Marshall is Orlando's man.
20. DENVER NUGGETS: ANDREW NICHOLSON
Pick made by Nate Timmons of Denver Stiffs
Denver is in need of a stretch big man, and Nicholson's game fits in perfectly. The youth movement continues for the Nuggets, and the deep team fills a need to play next to Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee. And Al Harrington gets a chance to teach his clone.
21. BOSTON CELTICS: ROYCE WHITE
Pick made by Jeff Clark of CelticsBlog
It is said that White has lottery talent, but questions about his past run ins with the law and his anxiety disorder have made him slip. It is also said that he's been impressing GMs in interviews with owning up to his past. Perhaps that's why Ainge allegedly asked him to shut down his workouts with other teams. Bottom line: there's just too much talent here to pass on. He's not a finished product, and his game is a bit unique, but that might actually make him a good fit on the court with Rondo.
22. BOSTON CELTICS: MOE HARKLESS
Pick made by Jeff Clark of CelticsBlog
The Celtics may be looking to move a pick or two, but if they keep both, I think it would be wise to swing for the fences on a big-time, raw talent that might develop into something special. That's Harkless - he could be one of the best players to come out of this draft. or he might never put it together. Harkless might go on the Avery Bradley plan of sitting for a year before getting more playing time, but if he develops he'll be well worth the wait.
23. ATLANTA HAWKS: TONY WROTEN
Pick made by Jason Walker of Peachtree Hoops
[Note: the initial pick here was Jared Sullinger ... who went 14 picks ago. After realizing the misstep, Walker nevertheless announced the Wroten pick and confidently declared, "We got our guy!"]
24. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: ARNETT MOULTRIE
Pick made by David Zavac of Fear The Sword
Arnett Moultrie would be an outstanding addition for the Cavaliers at 24. He has ideal size, rebounds well and is more athletic than he is often given credit for. His jump shot is a strength, but causes him to hang out on the perimeter a bit more than is necessary for a big man. He would get serious minutes immediately for the Cavaliers, helping to fill out a big man rotation complementing Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson. Moultrie is perhaps more skilled offensively than either player.
Moultrie and Thompson would have the athletic ability to turn into a formidable big man combination a few years down the road. Moultrie's decision not to participate in the skills drills at the Combine may have hurt him with a few teams, and there have been questions about his maturity at Mississippi State, but his production and athleticism makes him a great choice here.
25. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: MARQUIS TEAGUE
Pick made by Tom Lorenzo of Straight Outta Vancouver
The Grizzlies head into the offseason with a few needs, one of which is depth at the point. I know they might prefer grabbing Tony Wroten here at 25, but since he's off the board, they can turn to Teague who will provide a nice second unit floor general, if you will. His quickness will fit in nicely into the Grizzlies desire to get out in the open court. The catch here, though, is that while Teague has a pretty high ceiling, he's not necessarily NBA-ready. And with this team looking to continue its run as a near title threat, they're going to need him to step in right away and help take the burden off of Mike Conley. Still, if he can get it figured out sooner rather than later, he can be a serious second unit threat.
26. INDIANA PACERS: QUINCY MILLER
Pick made by Tom Lewis of Indy Cornrows
If the Pacers don't deal their pick. they will be looking to help bolster the bench in the short term, and by picking Quincy Miller, the Pacers have a chance to add a talent that could develop into a major contributor in the long term, as well. Last season the Pacers took a chance on modern medicine and were rewarded with the play of David West as he played a big role on and off the court while recovering from major knee surgery. Miller is further removed from his surgery, but questions remain around the quality of his rehab.
Taking the time to get Miller's knee back in shape may be worth if for the Pacers to add a dynamic skill set to the wing to play with Danny Granger or Paul George off the bench. The Pacers depth was an asset in the regular season when the 10-man rotation helped manage minutes and wear out other teams in the 66-game schedule. But the talent of that depth was exposed in the playoffs and will see some changes before the start of next season. Miller could be the first change, seeing some minutes off the bench while developing his NBA game for a bigger role in the future.
27. MIAMI HEAT: FESTUS EZELI
Pick made by Diego Quezada of Peninsula Is Mightier/Hot Hot Hoops
The Miami Heat should simply draft the best big man available on June 28. Miami was fortunate to have Shane Battier defend David West and Brandon Bass, and LeBron James played more of the four when Chris Bosh went down this postseason. But Pat Riley would have to admit that Dexter Pittman, Eddy Curry and Juwan Howard aren't going to produce much of anything. Moreover, Udonis Haslem struggled with his shot all year long and has regressed in the wake of the season-ending foot injury he sustained during the 2010-11 season.
I don't anticipate that Fab Melo -- an athletic seven footer -- will be available at 27, so Miami should select Festus Ezeli out of Vanderbilt. He's far from ideal -- the biggest red flag is that he ranked in the bottom third among centers for defensive rebounds per-40 minutes according to Draft Express. Ezeli does have a 6'11, 255-pound frame and can catch and finish at the rim, though. Bosh played the five effectively in the Finals, and Miami will still have Haslem and Joel Anthony under contract (Ronny Turiaf has a player option next season, and he will probably opt-in). In that case, the Heat should just try to find someone who can play for a few minutes if someone gets hurt and then be ready to contribute in a couple years. Although he won't be the panacea for the Heat, Ezeli be a good pick-up at the end of the first round.
28. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: EVAN FOURNIER
Pick made by Zebulun Benbrook of Welcome To Loud City
Since the Thunder are looking to bring foreign bigs Tibor Pleiss and Andrey Vorontsevich into the mix, there has been a lot of talk about the Thunder bailing out of the 2012 draft altogether. But, if they were to draft, they'd probably look for a swingman. You could look at how they pick for that position in one of two ways. One way is the Thunder are worried about losing Harden and don't have confidence in Cook, so they take a chance on a scorer. The other way is they look at the aging Royal Ivey and want some defensive insurance for the somewhat injury-prone Thabo Sefolosha. Some might say they go the first route, simply because there's a ton of scorers still on the board.
But, since the Thunder have a pretty loaded roster as it is and might want to bring back guys like Royal Ivey and Nazr Mohammed, I'd say they'd draft a guy that has the potential to be good defensively and can be stashed overseas. Namely, Evan Fournier. He's only 19, but he's already the top scorer for Poitiers, a first division French Team. He has many traits that are already expressed by Thunder guards, like rebounding, good size and length, defensive positioning and the willingness to work within a set system. Who knows? If we're lucky, he could be a better Thabo Sefolosha.
29. CHICAGO BULLS: ORLANDO JOHNSON
Pick made by Alex Sonty of Blog-a-Bull
The only bigs and point guards who can't be passed up are gone. It's easier to pass up on Jeff Taylor and John Jenkins than Will Barton. But if Johnson were Barton's age, he'd be just as high -- if not higher -- on boards around the web and in war rooms. Johnson actually has the NBA shot and body that Barton doesn't. He played against bums, but so does Memphis; and Johnson's elite shot puts him in the category of high-scoring mid-major products who can always add length and threes to any NBA rotation on both ends. His work ethic and basketball IQ make that NBA size and shot coachable enough to not care about his age. He's endured struggles no young man should with great maturity and drive; his production and lifestyle are proof of that.
30. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: JEFF TAYLOR
We have two more mock drafts this week, but unfortunately both will be written by Tom Ziller. Well, that's too bad.