Published on April 6th, 2012 | by Bryant West, Columnist0
2012 NBA Draft Mock #3: Post-NCAA Tournament Edition
For NBA fans, this season’s NCAA Tournament was a Godsend. Unlike the previous couple March Madnesses, this years tournament killed off the Cinderellas early, leaving the cream of the crop playing in some of the biggest games.
Three of the top four prospective draft picks—Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from Kentucky and Thomas Robinson from Kansas—played in the championship game. So did Terrance Jones, a probable lottery pick. Jared Sullinger, a lock for a top ten selection, was also in the Final Four. Perry Jones III (Baylor) and Bradley Beal (Florida) were both in the Elite Eight —as was North Carolina, which boasted four potential lottery selections (Harrison Barnes, John Henson, James McAdoo and Kendall Marshall). In total, that’s eleven players who could all legitimately hear their names called within the top fourteen picks on June 28th.
While many of the projected Class of 2012 have not made their draft intentions clear, we’ll know within four days—the NCAA has set the deadline at April 10th for players to decide to return to school. But how does the draft shape up for now? Let’s take a look.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: PF Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Bobcats fans, heed my cautionary tale. The year was 2009, and my beloved Sacramento Kings were a dreadful 18-63, worst in the league. Fans everywhere were already drooling at the prospect of Blake Griffin in purple. After all… the Kings hadn’t been relevant since 2004, we were fighting (and currently losing) a battle to even keep the franchise, and gosh-darn-it we’d lost 63 freaking games! We deserved that number one pick!
Of course, Sacramento didn’t get the number one pick. We ended up with number four. And while Tyreke Evans was a decent consolation prize, (and DeMarcus Cousins the next year even more so), we counted our chickens before they hatched. Or counted the pick before the ping pong balls. Whatever.
Yes, the Bobcats suck. Yes, the franchise has NEVER had anything to get excited about. Yes, the team has only won 13.5 percent of its games this year.
But don’t pin your hopes on Anthony Davis until Michael Jordan is holding up the ping pong balls after the lottery.
2. Washington Wizards: SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
I want to slide Thomas Robinson here, but when the Wizards got Nene for nothing more than Nick Young and the gigantic headache named JaVale McGee, the Wizards’ needs changed. Now they have their strong and capable post presence—they need help on the wing.
I could legitimately see Bradley Beal go here, if he kills it in workouts. He’d be a beautiful fit next to John Wall, giving the Wizards an outside threat to go with Wall’s slashing abilities. But Kidd-Gilchrist has proven for sure, without a doubt, that he’s worth a top three selection, even in this, a great draft class. He and fellow Kentucky alum John Wall would produce an athletic duo that would be hard for teams to match up with.
3. New Orleans Hornets: PF Thomas Robinson, Kansas
New Orleans needs talent of all size, and Thomas Robinson is a great face to give the struggling faceless franchise. Robinson has barely scratched his potential (he still lacks any consistent inside moves around the basket) and yet proved beyond a doubt that he’s a leader. A man among boys. You put him in any jersey, and he’ll end up leading the team. For New Orleans, with no plan for the future except for whatever works, Robinson would be a God send.
Hit the jump for the rest of Bryant’s mock draft…
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: SG Bradley Beal, Florida
Cleveland needs talent at any position but point guard, and Beal’s stock rocketed up the boards after a great NCAA tournament run where his Gators could have made it to the Final Four if they hadn’t choked in the closing minutes.
Beal has potential to be an Eric Gordon/mini-Ray Allen type scorer, and that works well alongside current Cavs star Kyrie Irving, who can score from anywhere but prefers to slash.
Still, Cleveland is the one team in this draft who really CAN stand to draft best player available. Their only sure fire position is point guard, and there aren’t any point guards worthy of a top eight pick. Whoever they land with in the top eight players, I can see working with Irving.
5. Portland Trailblazers (From New Jersey Nets): C Andre Drummond, Connecticut
I’m officially naming Drummond as Kwame Brown version 2.0. Yes, he’s got the skills, and yes, he’s got the body. Yes, he has untapped potential that dwarfs everyone in this draft with the exception of Anthony Davis. But he just really doesn’t care, or doesn’t have the personality to really care. He should have dominated in his year at UConn, but he failed miserably.
So why do I have him going top five? Teams will always take potential and hope they can instill the needed missing mental component. Sometimes, it works… more often than late, it doesn’t. (See Michael Beasley. Remember when the Bulls won the lottery and everyone assumed that Beasley would go number one? Minnesota almost traded him to the Lakers for trash. How’s that potential working out for you, Beasley? Or you, Marvin Williams?)
And honestly, he makes sense for Portland. They get a center to pair with LaMarcus Aldridge, and at worst, Drummond will be a good rebounder, defender and shotblocker. But if the Blazers end up here, expect them to curse Cleveland for taking Bradley Beal. Now THAT is a good fit. Of course, Portland can hardly be in any position to gripe about who they get here… they got this pick from the Nets for Gerald Wallace, who was leaving this year anyways.
But speaking of this pick… I really don’t understand the panic move by the Nets here. Wallace is a good player, no doubt, but is he good enough to either A. convince Deron Williams to stay with the Nets or B. be a trading piece for Dwight Howard come June? No, and no. Honestly, if the Nets wanted Howard (and that seems the only way to keep Deron in a Nets uniform) wouldn’t a high lottery pick with Brook Lopez and future picks down the road look better than Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez? I just don’t get it.
And if New Jersey COULDN’T get Dwight, and then LOST Williams, at least they still had a lottery pick.
6. Sacramento Kings: SF Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Again, as a Kings fan, I’m not sold on this fit. I worry that Barnes won’t fair as well as 3rd/4th option shooter, and he’s still not a good defender or rebounder. But Sacramento’s need for wing help is so bad, you can’t help but pencil this in. Yet in three, four years… I half expect every Kings fan would be dying to trade Barnes for Kidd-Gilchrist.
7. Toronto Raptors: C Cody Zeller, Indiana
Toronto needs wing help, not really big help. I could also see them making a move for Damian Lillard as they could use a point guard, although this seems a bit early for Lillard. Lining up all the remaining prospects, Zeller seems to be the one most scouts are favoring. His potential is unquestionable, and he’s a very smart player, but I think he’ll be bounced around in the bigs. He needs to bulk up before he can really be effective.
8. Detroit Pistons: PF Perry Jones, Baylor
The Pistons don’t really need another power forward (they have Greg Monroe, after all) but Jones at this point is a logical risk. By now we all know of Jones problems – does he have a competitive spark in him, or even any self confidence on the court? If something sparks up in him, his talent is unquestionably top five worthy. The Pistons could take anyone from this point on except for Lillard and Marshall, and they could make it work. But Jones has the most potential… and at this point, he’s a safe risk.
9. Utah Jazz (from Golden State Warriors): PG Damian Lillard, Weber State
Utah needs a point guard, and a top ten selection worth one was just produced in their own state. No, Jazz fans, Lillard isn’t Jimmer Fredette (Hey, if you want him, give Sacramento a call. #9 pick for Fredette?… Give them a buzz. Seriously. I’d do it.) but he’s got excellent all around potential.
You can’t say Lillard wouldn’t have talent to work with… Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Paul Milsap and Al Jefferson all on the same squad? Utah is jam packed with talent and are an above average point guard away from being a top five team in the west.
10. New Orleans Hornets (from Minnesota Timberwolves): PG Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
No one helped their draft prospects more in the NCAA tournament than Kendall Marshall, but lets not go overboard here. He’s a very solid NBA prospect with an elite NBA passing game… and that’s about it. At least for now, anyways. Can he develop a consistent NBA jumpshot? Develop some more moves and become a driving threat? Become an about average defender? Yes, the passing is there, but will the rest come with it?
I hope very much that Marshall succeeds. We saw how much Carolina missed him in the Sweet Sixteen (fell apart without him) and New Orleans will need a good point guard to go with their shiny new franchise player (Thomas Robinson, pick number 3). Marshall will be a very solid fit no matter where he goes.
11. Portland Trailblazers: SG Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
Portland curses their luck on missing out on Marshall and gambles a bit on Lamb.
Lamb has scoring potential that almost rivals Bradley Beal, but he loses his shine a bit considering how badly he and his Huskies teammates fell apart.
Portland needs a point guard, but at this pick with both Lillard and Marshall off the board, I bet they’ll take Jeremy Lamb. Of course, I predicted Portland would take Andre Drummond with the #5 pick… which means I just turned the Portland Trailblazers into the UConn Huskies 2.0. Hopefully whoever is coaching the Blazers next season can actually work with Drummond and Lamb and teach them some maturity, patience and passion. Because Jim Calhoun failed miserably. How do you have so much raw talent and FAIL to work it out whatsoever? Mind boggling.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: PF John Henson, North Carolina
Most mocks have Henson in the early teens, but I feel he’s being under-appreciated as a prospect. Yes, his offensive game is unquestionably raw, but no more raw than Bismack Biyombo’s was last year, and Biyombo went #8 in the draft. Henson also needs to bulk up, but his defensive tenacity and work ethic are unmatched in this stage of the draft. He possesses a motor that seems very rare in this draft class. I think in a few years, he’ll be looked at as a steal should he go outside of the top 10.
13. Utah Jazz: SF Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Utah curses Portland for taking the last talented wing player and takes a power forward agile and quick enough to play wing. Jones has very solid all around talent, but the questions surrounding him are about his determination and nothing else. He looked plenty motivated in the NCAA tournament, which should seriously help his stock.
Of course, there is one talented wing left on the board… one Austin Rivers. Could Rivers fit in with Utah, where the Jazz lack any one star player but have a ton of offensive talent? Who knows. I’m just hoping he lasts till Boston, because it’ll be funny to see the media explode when Coach Rivers drafts his son.
14. Phoenix Suns: PF Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Multiple players (Terrence Jones, Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones) all must regret not entering the draft last year. In the weaker class of 2011, they would have gone higher, and none of the three REALLY helped themselves this season. But Sullinger has the be the player harboring the most regret.
Last season, he’d have been a top 5 pick easily. In my book, I’d bet he’d have gone #4 to the Cavaliers and pumped up the hometown fans. Now? He could go anywhere from 7 to out of the lottery completely. He made no significant improvements to his game this year, and choked away HORRIBLY in the Final Four against Kansas.
Now why would Phoenix take him here? You could make the case for James McAdoo (my gut says he waits another year), or even Tyler Zeller But Sullinger has talent… it’s just clear it wasn’t as much as we expected last year. Phoenix could use some bulk inside though and he’s got both the bulk (6’9”, 280 lbs) and scoring skills. What else does he have? Who really knows…