The Charlotte Bobcats, who unfortunately dropped to No. 2 in the 2012 NBA Draft thanks to
a fix global conspiracy poor luck chance, want to emulate the Oklahoma City Thunder. The team's general manager, Rich Cho, was an understudy of Thunder GM, Sam Presti, during the rebuilding of OKC. Given the particular constraints of the Sonics'/Thunder's situation in 2007-09 and the current constraints of the Bobcats' situation, it makes perfect sense.
It also means that Charlotte needs to be really, really bad for two more seasons.
We'll get to them soon enough. Let's mock.
1. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS: Anthony Davis
A serious question: was it the Hornets who cancelled planned workouts with Thomas Robinson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist after the Basketball Gods awarded New Orleans the No. 1 pick, or did the agents for Robinson and MKG yank them? Are the Hornets pushing for maximal efficiency (knowing neither will be available at No. 10), or are the players conceding to Davis immediately?
2. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
This is the dark side of the Thunder Stratagem: Presti's teams had three straight top-5 picks. This may seem obvious, but you have to be insanely bad for three seasons (or extremely lucky a couple of times) to land three straight top-5 picks. And of course, Presti nailed every single one. He didn't leave a more productive player on the board in any of those drafts. (He actually had two top-5 picks in 2007 thanks to the Ray Allen trade, but Jeff Green didn't really pan out except to bring back Kendrick Perkins in a trade.)
No matter who Charlotte picks, they'll be really quite bad next season. That's worth keeping in mind. It shouldn't be about instant production. It should be about picking the best prospect, period. In my mind, while Thomas Robinson will have more of an instant impact due to his rebounding and size, MKG is the better long-term prospect thanks to his defensive make-up and versatility.
3. WASHINGTON WIZARDS: Bradley Beal
I was on the Thomas Robinson bandwagon here, but then I realized that Jan Vesely didn't play a minute of small forward last season. Since Washington elected to keep Randy Wittmann (a stunner to anyone who watched the mid-Oughts Timberwolves), the front office must subscribe to his theory than Vesely is a power forward. While the Best Player Available theory should always ride hard, it's difficult for teams to justify picking up two lottery picks who play the same position in consecutive years.
4. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: Harrison Barnes
The Robinson situation is interesting because both the Wizards and Cavaliers invested top-6 picks in power forwards in 2011. If Charlotte passes on him, he could slip right down to No. 5. Cleveland most assuredly would prefer MKG or Beal here, but Barnes is the next best non-PF and -- more importantly -- is not Andre Drummond, who like 2011 pick Tristan Thompson is a project.
5. SACRAMENTO KINGS: Thomas Robinson
The Kings absolutely need to get shooting or defense (preferably both) in the offseason. A nice defender and, as importantly, rebounder in Robinson would help round out the DeMarcus Cousins-led frontcourt and relieve pressure on the retention of restricted free agent Jason Thompson.
6. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: Damian Lillard
For the second straight draft, point guards are in short supply. Portland can go with a big man here and risk losing out on Lillard and Kendall Marshall by No. 11, or they can bite the bullet at No. 6 and count on a nice big man being available at No. 11. Regardless, efforts to move up wouldn't seem to make sense unless Robinson is a target, with LaMarcus Aldridge moving to center full-time.
7. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: Perry Jones III
For the record, I don't wish Mark Jackson on anybody. But grasping at defensive potential seems to be a particularly Warriors thing to do these days.
8. TORONTO RAPTORS: Kendall Marshall
The perfect up-tempo point guard to bring the whole bouillabaisse together! (There are no longer any decent point guard prospects who belong in the lottery.)
9. DETROIT PISTONS: Andre Drummond
For his next act, Joe Dumars will attempt to meld Ben Wallace and Andre Drummond together to form Bendre Drummace: Super Defender.
10. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS: Jared Sullinger
We don't really know how consistent Anthony Davis' offense will be at the NBA level, but you can seemingly count on Sullinger to get buckets. That's a potentially devastating frontline down the road.
11. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: John Henson
In this mock, the gamble in taking Lillard at No. 6 pays off with a top-10 talent available at No. 11.
12. MILWAUKEE BUCKS: Tyler Zeller
Because Drew Gooden can't play all 48 minutes at power forward and center.
13. PHOENIX SUNS: Jeremy Lamb
The choice between Jeremy Lamb and Austin Rivers has the potential to prove the existence or non-existence of the God particle.
14. HOUSTON ROCKETS: Meyers Leonard
And thus creates the greatest cornhole/hacky sack circle in Houston history: Leonard, Chase Budinger and Chandler Parsons.
15. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: Terrence Jones
And Doug Collins rejoiced at having another live body to play in the frontcourt! (Seriously, if Philadelphia doesn't go frontcourt, Doug Collins might throw someone very far.)
16. HOUSTON ROCKETS: Evan Fournier
The Rockets are distinctly lacking in culture. (See pick No. 14.) Picking a Frenchman as potentially the first round's only international would fix that right up.
17. DALLAS MAVERICKS: Terrence Ross
This is me being nice to Mavericks fans. Remember it when I'm being really, really mean to them after they start talking about the Grand Deron Williams-Roy Hibbert-James Harden Plan. (Oh dang, I think I just gave Mike Fisher an idea. Sorry, Internet.)
18. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: Austin Rivers
And for the first time ever, someone will say, "Austin Rivers is just what that team needs!" and will be correct. And for the first time ever, someone will say, "Excellent decision by David Kahn!" and will be correct. And then the world ends.
19. ORLANDO MAGIC: Tony Wroten
Sam Vincent is plotting this too, for what it's worth.
20. DENVER NUGGETS: Dion Waiters
I am so looking forward to the point at which Waiters leaps over the other two shooting guards in his range (Lamb, Rivers) in the mocks only to fall right back down below them on draft day. Also, can we start talking about the Jim Boeheim Effect? It's defined as the exact opposite of the Ben Howland Effect.
21. BOSTON CELTICS: Moe Harkless
Ooh, double picks for Danny Ainge! He can go for value with Harkless and then swing for the fences with ...
22. BOSTON CELTICS: Kyle O'Quinn
Step aside, Greg Stiemsma. We have a new Veal.
23. ATLANTA HAWKS: Quincy Miller
Atlanta needs big men badly, but Miller should be a lottery pick in my estimation. A huge value pick this low in the first.
24. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: Jeff Taylor
The next coming of Bobby Simmons!
25. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: Marquis Teague
The next coming of Jeff Teague!
26. INDIANA PACERS: Miles Plumlee
The preview of Mason Plumlee! (Miles is definitely going in the first round. May I remind you that Nolan Smith went in the low 20s last season. The Coach K Bump is strong, unless your name is Jon Scheyer.)
27. MIAMI HEAT: Arnett Moultrie
Moultrie will replace Joel Anthony. In lieu of waiver, the Heat will use a little-known collective bargaining agreement clause allowing them to harvest Anthony's soul and embed it in LeBron James.
28. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: Darius Miller
"Say, Darius, we think it'd be a good idea for you to go play in Estonia for a couple of years ... whaddaya say?"
29. CHICAGO BULLS: Tomas Satoransky
Never underestimate the thirst to stash.
30. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: Jae Crowder
When I think Golden State Warriors Basketball, I think Picking A 6'3 Forward In The First Round.