The 2012 NBA draft became a little clearer now that every member of Kentucky’s national championship team officially declared for the draft on Tuesday.
Now that mostly every underclassmen with first-round potential has made their intentions clear, it’s time to take a look at my latest mock draft and the ideal landing spot for each and every first-round pick.
The Charlotte Bobcats are on the clock.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
With 17 consecutive losses, the Bobcats desperately need someone to make an impact and help change the culture in Charlotte.
Davis is the biggest impact player on the board and can make that impact without having the ball in his hands, strictly by blocking and altering shots. He’s long and athletic and while he won’t block 4.9 shots per game like he did as a freshman at Kentucky, he will still make an impact.
2. Washington Wizards: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
The Wizards also need an impact player, but they also need a leader and a winner. They can’t go wrong with Robinson or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist here, but Robinson may be the better fit.
He’s only 6’9”, but the Kansas product is a warrior on the block. Robinson is a high-flyer who runs the floor well, so he will fit in nicely with John Wall, but he’s a also a guy that can give the Wizards a lift in the post and on the glass after putting a fantastic season together in which he averaged 17.9 points per game and 11.9 rebounds per game.
3. New Orleans Hornets: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
The Hornets have several needs to fill and they would be foolish to pass on Kidd-Gilchrist at No. 3. He’s a born leader and doesn’t mind sacrificing offense for defense as he is the best on-ball defender in this draft class.
While Kidd-Gilchrist can guard multiple position, he’s outstanding offensively as well with a quick first step and the ability to get to the rim with either hand. His perimeter shot is a bit of a concern, knocking down only 25 percent of his attempts, but he has the ability to become the best player in the Class of 2012.
4. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, Connecticut
This is a need pick for the Kings as they need a big body to pair with DeMarcus Cousins, preferably one that can help sure up their interior defense.
Drummond is a risky pick, but if he pans out he could be outstanding for Sacramento. No team in the NBA allows more points than the Kings, and Drummond’s good feel for the game as well as his ability to block shots (2.9 BPG) and rebound (7.7 RPG) could pay immediate dividends.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, Florida
The Cavs need athletes and some shooting, so Beal is a can’t miss guy for them. He has the ability to become the best pure scorer in the class after averaging 14.8 PPG as a freshman and can shoot it from anywhere, knocking down 45 percent of his shots from the floor as well as 34 percent of his three-point attempts.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey): Damian Lillard, Weber State
Portland has holes to fill including guard play and a big man. There’s a chance they may not be able to nab a point guard at No. 11, so reaching a bit for Lillard here makes sense.
Lillard is a volume scorer, averaging 24.5 PPG on the season and has the ability to play either guard spot effectively.
7. Toronto Raptors: Harrison Barnes: North Carolina
The current Raptors small forwards combine to average slightly over 16 points per game, so an upgrade is needed. Despite the struggles of Barnes in the NCAA Tournament, where he only shot 33 percent from the floor, Barnes has the ability to become a No. 1 scoring option in the NBA.
He averaged 17.7 PPG on the season and has the shooting ability to put up similar numbers in the NBA, which would be a blessing for Toronto.
8. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
This ultimately could become Golden State’s pick, but if it remains in the hands of the Jazz, they almost have to reach here for Marshall as he may not be around for their second pick of the round.
A point guard for the future is a must for Utah, and Marshall could be the best pure floor general in the draft. He puts his teammates in good spots averaging 9.8 assists per game and values the basketball, posting an impressive 3.48 assist-to-turnover ratio.
9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson, North Carolina
Henson helps the Pistons get more athletic and gives them a solid big to pair with Greg Monroe. His offense is raw, but he’s athletic and will help immediately on the glass (10.1 RPG) and as a shot-blocker (2.9 BPG).
10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota): Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
The Hornets added a solid wing player in Kidd-Gilchrist and now get to add a potentially dominant big in Sullinger. If Eric Gordon can come back healthy, the Hornets will finally have some pieces in place for the future.
Sullinger has some doubters, but should be able to score effectively and do the job on the glass. With time, if he averages anything close to the 17.6 PPG and 9.3 RPG he did this season, New Orleans will be plenty happy with this draft.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
Portland can get their big guy here and with Zeller, they may not get a star, but they will get a guy that can produce.
He has a soft touch around the rim, shooting 55 percent from the floor and will be a solid rebounder on a nightly basis (9.6 RPG). The Blazers don’t necessarily need Zeller to be a star with some other pieces in place, but they need him to be productive, and he can be groomed to do so.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
Moultrie gives the Bucks the athletic big they need and should be able to come in and produce immediately after a season in which he averaged 16.4 PPG and 10.5 RPG at Mississippi State.
He’s a freak of an athlete and his game is only getting better. Moutrie’s upside is enormous.
13. Utah Jazz: Austin Rivers, Duke
Utah gets both Marshall and Rivers, getting a star from each side of the Duke-North Carolina rivalry. Within a few years that could become a lethal backcourt, especially if Rivers improves on his shooting after knocking down only 43 percent of his shots from the floor, 37 percent from behind the arc and 66 percent from the free-throw line.
Those aren’t terrible numbers for a freshman, but he’s a natural scorer and you would think he’s just going to improve. Once Rivers learns to play without the ball better and not force up bad shots, he has the talent to be very good.
14. Houston Rockets: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
Since Houston has fallen out of the playoff race for the time being, this pick that normally would go to New Jersey is now their property once again.
They can’t allow Lamb to slide any further than No. 14. Kevin Martin is a nice option at the 2-guard spot, but it’s doubtful he’s in their long-term plans. Adding a guy like Lamb (17.7 PPG) with the talent to one day become a No. 1 scoring option is a steal this late.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Terrence Ross, Washington
Philadelphia could look to go big here in an attempt to fix their interior defense, but Ross fills a big need here for the Sixers as they need a legitimate shooting guard.
Ross has a smooth looking jumper and has range, shooting 37 percent from behind the arc. Standing at 6’6”, his size allows him do to many things well, including rebound, where he’s one of the better rebounding guards in the draft, pulling down 6.4 RPG per night.
16. Houston Rockets (via New York Knicks): Meyers Leonard, Illinois
With their second first-round pick, the Rockets get the big guy they covet in Leonard. He won’t be a star immediately but has a huge upside.
Leonard’s length should help Houston right away on the glass and adds a presence in the paint as he pulled down 8.2 RPG and blocked 1.9 shots a night. The seven-footer also has some offensive skill, averaging 13.6 PPG and shooting .584 from the floor.
The talent is there, but it may take some time to develop it all.
17. Phoenix Suns: Perry Jones III, Baylor
Jones makes the big slide of the day down to No. 17, and while there’s a more than a good chance he goes before this pick, if he slides, it’s the Suns’ gain.
On talent alone, Jones should be selected with the first handful of picks in the draft, but his issues with producing consistently could see him slide a lot further than his skill set says he should. Jones has all the gifts in the world, but averaging 13.5 PPG and 7.5 RPG throughout the course of two college seasons isn’t exactly eye opening.
18. Dallas Mavericks: Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Dallas will have to get younger and more athletic, and Jones will be tremendous in a Mavericks uniform.
He’s got ideal size at 6’9” for a small forward and can guard multiple positions. Jones also possesses solid rebounding skills (7.2 RPG) and can score from anywhere on the floor, shooting 50 percent from the field and 33 percent from behind the arc.
19. Denver Nuggets: Dion Waiters, Syracuse
Waiters fits in with Denver’s uptempo attack as he’s a guard with tremendous scoring ability, averaging 12.1 PPG in 24 minutes of game action per night. He’s a combo-guard who excels in transition and in getting into the paint, but can also keep defenses honest with his jumper, knocking down a respectable 36 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.
20. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
Boston needs a young big man that can produce, and Nicholson could turn into the steal of the draft. He does a lot of things well, but the Celtics could use an additional scoring punch. Nicholson is a guy who averaged 18.5 PPG on the season while shooting 57 percent from the floor and 47 percent from behind the arc.
21. Atlanta Hawks: Royce White, Iowa State
White’s got ideal size at 6’9” for a small forward and also possesses the speed and awareness of a guard. You know about his ability to score and rebound, but consider the fact that Iowa State made the NCAA Tournament with White leading the team in assists (5.1 APG) on the season.
He can help give the Hawks the consistent production they currently don’t get from the small forward spot.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Wroten, Washington
Wroten is worth the gamble this late and ultimately could turn into one of the better guards in this draft. A team like Memphis, who has solid pieces in place already, can afford to take that type of gamble.
Wroten has the all-around ability to be a star, but must develop certain parts of his game including valuing the basketball, where he averaged 3.8 turnovers per game to only 3.7 assists.
23. Orlando Magic: Marquis Teague, Kentucky
The Magic could use a backup plan for a pending Dwight Howard exit here, but getting a point guard for the future is just as big of a need.
Teague is a very talented guard who ran the Kentucky offense very well but will need to develop into an NBA guard. For Orlando, though, the upside of Teague is well worth the risk.
24. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Doron Lamb, Kentucky
Boston could bank on a guy like Avery Bradley as their 2-guard of the future and look for another big here, but even with Bradley in the lineup the Celtics must add some perimeter shooting.
Lamb can add a scoring punch to the Boston rotation, especially from the perimeter where he shot 46 percent from behind the arc. When he’s on, Lamb has the talent to become a high-volume NBA scorer.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Jeffrey Taylor, Vanderbilt
Taylor is a great athlete who can make an impact in Cleveland. He’s outstanding defensively, but can also bring a solid offensive game to the table, averaging 16.1 PPG. Now that he’s added a perimeter game, shooting 42 percent from three-point range, Taylor’s value is as high as it has ever been.
26. Indiana Pacers: Moe Harkless, St. John’s
The Pacers already have a nice rotation, but adding a talent with upside like Harkless makes them even more dangerous.
He’s long and explosive with a good offensive game (15.3 PPG), but while he has the ability to slash to the rim, the true value of Harkless could come on the defensive end of the floor and on the glass (8.6 RPG).
27. Miami Heat: Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
The heat need a big body that can produce just a little bit and while Ezeli’s game is raw, he did shoot 60 percent from the floor this year and has a nice baby hook shot with either hand.
Ezeli has the chance to become a nice player, and the Heat can afford to take their time with him.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green, Michigan State
Looking for a backup at both the 3 and the 4, the Thunder can almost fill both needs with Green.
He may not be a star like he was at Michigan State where he averaged 16.1 PPG and 10.4 RPG, but he does everything very well and will likely be the type of guy that will produce just fine in spots.
Green is well coached, and his game is mature enough to where he could contribute a little bit right away.
29. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio Spurs): Kris Joseph, Syracuse
The Warriors could look for a backup big man like Kevin Jones or Fab Melo here, but adding a small forward with a chance to produce is just as big of a need.
Joseph’s numbers (13.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG) don’t exactly speak to how talented of a player he is considering how deep the Syracuse team was. He’s another guy that was well coached in college and has a knack for making things happen at both ends of the floor.
30. Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
The Bulls make out by adding a scoring punch to take some pressure off Derrick Rose. Jenkins is a great shooter with unlimited range, knocking down 44 percent of his attempts from behind the arc on the season.
With Rose penetrating and dishing, Jenkins could have a ton of success in a Bulls uniform.
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