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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rock Out With Your Mock Out 2012

1. New Orleans Hornets - Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky

Move over Miami, there's a new big three: Eric Gordon, Anthony Davis, and The Unibrow. Is The Big Easy ready for the NBA's newest triumvirate? (Nickname suggestion: The Big Threesy?)

2. Charlotte Bobcats - Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas

There have been whispers of a scenario in which the Cleveland Cavaliers would flip their two first round picks (4 & 24) in exchange for the Bobcat's 2nd pick. The Cavs would do this only to snatch Florida's Bradley Beal before the Wizards can with Washington's 3rd pick. Whether they make the pick at #2 or #4, Robinson is likely the guy, especially after the very recent Ben Gordon trade. He could no doubt be a player for the Bobcats with superstar capability. He's big, strong and tough, yet has surprisingly soft touch around the rim. He can shoot from the mid-range, and runs the floor like no other big. He's a selfless and confident player, who thrives in doing the dirty work. If Robinson continues to develop like he has in college, he could be a Karl Malone-caliber player.

3. Washington Wizards - Bradley Beal, SG, Florida

The recent trade bringing in Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza ends the tumultuous Rashard Lewis era in DC, notable more for his $21 million annual contract than the 20 wins he helped the Wiz accumulate. With a new frontline of NenĂª and Okafor, Washington is seemingly set down low and they will surely look for a guard in the draft. Beal has drawn comparisons to Ray Allen and Eric Gordon, and his outside shooting should be the ideal complement to John Wall.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers - Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina

Again, barring Cleveland moving up in the draft to get outside scorer Bradley Beal, the hands down next best scorer available is North Carolina's Harrison Barnes. Barnes averaged a tick under 20 points per game on a tier one NCAA team, and was one of UNC's main team leaders. He could have probably been a top 3 pick in last year's NBA draft, but opted to stay for one more year under Roy Williams, and he still remains a top 5 prospect this year, showing an invaluable consistency to his game. With Alonzo Gee, Omri Casspi and Luke Walton as their Small Forward options for 2012, Barnes looks like a much better piece for Cleveland as they continue to rebuild.

5. Sacramento Kings - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky

As with many of the teams at the top of the lottery, they could afford to upgrade at a few different spots. Another big man to play alongside DeMarcus Cousins could be useful, but the risk of taking the unproven and enigmatic Andre Drummond could be too great. With MKG, the Kings would get a solid wing player who can immediately add defense and rebounding to a team without a surefire starter at small forward.

6. Portland Trailblazers - Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State

Before Lillard even stepped on the court at any NBA combine or workout, a plethora of questions surrounded him: Has he played good enough competition to be legit? Can he play defense? Is he big enough? Why wasn't he highly recruited? So on, and so forth. But unlike many mid-major lottery prospects, as Lillard continued to work out for teams, the more he stood out. As for his workout with Portland, a source claimed that it was the best workout since the  team worked out Kevin Durant in 2007. Needless to say, the Blazers are impressed with what Lillard has to offer and will take him if he is still on the board at 6.

7. Golden State Warriors - Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse

Waiters is a controversial pick at #7 because he did not even crack Syracuse's starting lineup in his sophomore year. That said, this is the Warriors we're talking about, and their questionable draft decisions are well-documented. The have new management in GM Bob Myers, but as stated before, it's the Warriors.

8. Toronto Raptors - Austin Rivers, G, Duke

This is the Raptors' chance to take a risk and snag a possible franchise player at number 8. With a tough history of failing to retain their stars (Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Chris Bosh), Toronto has the opportunity to create a new culture surrounding their team. Austin Rivers is a dynamic player, and leader, with possibly the most potential in this draft class. His game is more fitting to the NBA style than college, and that is probably why he fell short of expectations at Duke. And while Austin would probably rather play for his dad in Boston, the Raptors could do themselves a favor and grab themselves a possible superstar.

9. Detroit Pistons - Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut

His story has been told time and time again: he has the physical tools to be the most dominant player in this draft but his motor and attitude are major red flags. At some point, though, he has to come off the board, and the Pistons would be elated to have him fall into their laps here at 9, much later than projected.

10. New Orleans Hornets - Terrence Ross, G/F, Washington

No other player's draft stock has risen more than Ross' in the last couple of months. The lengthy guard was initially pegged as a 18-25 pick, but now finds himself with a green room invite, and the opportunity to be a lottery pick. The Hornets just need to go "best-available" with their 10 pick having netted future all-star Anthony Davis at the #1 spot. Ross can relieve scoring pressure from Eric Gordon, and be an option as a scorer if Gordon continues to struggle with injuries.

11. Portland Trailblazers - Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois

After taking Lillard at 6, the Blazers will look to address their other need: the gaping void left by the departure of Greg Oden and his brittle knees. Portland and its fans held on hope for five years, but when he was cut earlier this season the Oden experiment finally came to a sad end. With his height (7'1.25" with shoes) and athleticism, Leonard gives them a solid player with whom to rebuild at center.

12. Milwaukee Bucks - John Henson, PF, North Carolina

With Meyers Leonard off the board, Milwaukee can just go with a pure defensive talent here. Their true need is Center, but with the two best off the board (Drummond & Leonard), Henson's fellow Tar-Heel Tyler Zeller would be too much of a reach to fill the position. Henson is all arms and legs, and if he can get stronger and tougher in the post, could be one of the best shot blockers in the league.

13. Phoenix Suns - Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut

Steve Nash willed the Suns to within 3 victories of the playoffs, but he cannot be expected to re-sign in Phoenix if they don't add offensive weapons. Lamb is a talented shooter and scorer that could perhaps make Nash feel more comfortable finishing out his career as a Sun.

14. Houston Rockets - Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina

Kyle Lowry appears to be on his way out of Houston, and there is no guarantee Goran Dragic will be re-sign in free agency. Marshall will be the 3rd UNC player picked in the lottery. Marshall was 2nd in the NCAA in assists, and is a pure point guard which the NBA lacks. Marshall makes his teammates better around him. And with Houston's array of scorers and depth, Marshall could be a great NBA distributor.

Philadelphia 76ers - Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State

As long as the Sixers are able to re-sign Lou Williams, they won't really have any holes on the current roster. Moultrie offers a potential replacement for the aging (and overpaid) Elton Brand, who could - despite his production - be an amnesty candidate.

16. Houston Rockets- Tyler Zeller C, North Carolina

The Rockets own the 14, 16 and 18 picks, this would indicate that they are probably wheeling and dealing with other teams to acquire some veterans or scorers in exchange for young talent. However, we can't speculate on where these picks will go. That being said, the Rockets need a center as Marcus Camby is older than dirt, and Samuel Dalembert is up there in age as well. Zeller is a 7'0" cerebral big guy with a jumper and defensive prowess. Zeller has played with Kendall Marshall for a couple years at UNC, and the combo could bring instant chemistry to Houston.

17. Dallas Mavericks - Moe Harkless, SF, St. John's

The draft is far less consequential to the Mavericks than Deron Williams' free agent decision, but if D-Will chooses to return to his hometown and join the Mavs then they will need some help on the wing. Harkless is something of a project at this point, but his size and rebounding can be of immediate use. Even if Williams stays in New Jersey, Harkless can still serve as a promising successor to Shawn Marion and Vince Carter at the small forward slot.

18. Houston Rockets - Royce White, F, Iowa State

White's anxiety, and fear of flying will probably not deter teams on taking a chance on this unique talent. He can play 3 or 4 competently without being called a "tweener." I could see teams such as Boston, Orlando or Memphis attempting to trade up to get this pick from Houston. Either way, if Houston decides to keep White, he would fill the void that was created when the Rockets traded SF Chase Budinger to Minnesota for this exact pick.

19. Orlando Magic - Perry Jones III, SF/PF, Baylor

Perry Jones has seen his stock fall a long way from when he first stepped foot on Baylor's campus. He still has as much upside as any player in this draft, but his inability to show consistency or demonstrate an NBA position worries a lot of GMs. Orlando could be a good fit for Jones, where floor-spacing shooters JJ Redick and Ryan Anderson could allow Jones to thrive going to the basket.

20. Denver Nuggets- Tony Wroten Jr. PG, Washington

Wroten is probably one of the most fearless and best slashers in the draft. The dude gets to the bucket. He is also a great passer, drawing double teams and finding his open Husky teammates. Over the past couple months he has been speculated to go in the lottery, or all the way in the second round. His draft stock is somewhat of an enigma. With no holes to fill, and plenty of talent, experience and youth, Denver can afford to take a risk on Wroten. Stashing him on the bench for a few years will allow Wroten to develop his jump shot, and also be under the tutelage of another lackluster shooting, yet prolific point guard, Andre Miller.

21. Boston Celtics - Jared Sullinger, PF/C, Ohio State

Sullinger's exclusion from the list of green room invitees is telling about where the stock of the former top-5 prospect currently stands. Concerns about his size, athleticism, and bad back have caused the slip, but make no mistake, the kid can play. He led his Buckeyes to the Final Four this past season and something tells me the veteran coach Doc Rivers could find a way to incorporate Sullinger into his system.

22. Boston Celtics - Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure

Nicholson is a flat-out efficient scorer. He ranked in the top 10 in basically every scoring efficiency category this past year. The Celtics have the chance to take a bit of a risk as they own the 21 pick as well. Nicholson is a high risk, high reward type of selection. It will remain to be seen if Nicholson can be a solid NBA player, but scouts seem to be high on his skill-set.

23. Atlanta Hawks - Fab Melo, C, Syracuse

The Hawks have been trying slide Horford over to his "natural" power forward spot for a few years now. Fab Melo isn't a huge offensive threat but the Big East Defensive Player of the Year gives them a defensive stopper, which is a good value at the #23 pick.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers - Terrence Jones, SF/PF, Kentucky

If Jones entered the draft last year, he would probably have been a top 10 pick. After another year with Kentucky, Jones has not progressed like many had hoped. He seems to have plateaued in potential. He still possesses an incredible athleticism and scrappiness, but his inconsistent jump shot is a liability. Jones may still be worth the early pick because his game may adapt differently to the NBA.

25. Memphis Grizzlies - Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky

Teague had a shaky start to his freshman season, but he righted the ship and was able to effectively run Kentucky's offense on their way to the national championship. He surprised many with his athleticism at the draft combine and few doubt that he could be a viable backup and potential protege to Mike Conley in Memphis.

26. Indiana Pacers - Jeffery Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt

Taylor is probably one of the best on-ball wing defenders in the draft. The Pacers are pretty much set on young scorers, in their front and back court, so they might as well improve on the defensive side of the ball. Taylor could be a great spark off of the bench to create fast break opportunities, while Danny Granger gets some rest.

27. Miami Heat - Quincy Miller, PF, Baylor

The world champion Miami Heat are pretty well equipped to defend their title. The prevailing thought during the season was that the Heat would need to improve at center in order to compete with the likes of Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, and Pau Gasol. Fortunately for Miami, they faced none of those players in the playoffs and they were able to succeed with Chris Bosh at the 5. As it stands, the only big worth selecting here is Vanderbilt's Festus Ezeli, but they are also in the privileged position to afford to stash a high-upside guy like Baylor's Quincy Miller on their bench.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder - Will Barton, SF, Memphis

The Thunder don't necessarily need anything, as their roster has great depth and its herd of superstars. They can use this pick as insurance in case they are unable to secure a contract for James Harden at the end of next season. Barton is another guy whose stock has soared. He is a great scorer, and could be the steal of the draft.

29. Chicago Bulls - John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt

The Bulls have needed help at the shooting guard position for a few years now. They went out and got Rip Hamilton in free agency, but he has proven to be a shadow of his former self so far. With Jenkins, they are getting a guy who can stroke from downtown and not too much else, but this late in the first round the Bulls don't need a star, just a role player to assist Derrick Rose once he returns from injury.

30. Golden State Warriors - Draymond Green, SF/PF, Michigan State

The Warriors lack defense, rebounding and toughness, which are the qualities that embody Green's game. Green stayed four years at Michigan State under one of best in the biz, Tom Izzo. Green would bring a much needed toughness to Golden State. I can see him as a DeJuan Blair type player.

Court adjourned.

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