By Gus Elvin
Well folks it’s that time again, as with the NBA Draft just a day away it is time for us as TSHQ to release our 2012 NBA Mock Draft. You might know me as the college basketball writer here at The Sports Headquarters, but once a year I take a break from college hoops and try my hand at projecting the NBA Draft. The 2012 Mock Draft will be our and my 2nd annual NBA Mock and will attempt to breakdown and project all the draft picks for Thursday night. The Draft is still almost 24 hours away, so there is still time for trades and some movement in terms of draft order but as of 11:30 pm on Wednesday night, this is how the draft order reads. Obviously mock drafts are always a crapshoot and we are just speculating where guys will go based on their talent, potential and team needs, among other things. One surprise pick or trade, and all these picks could change, so I have given you some different possibilities for all the teams selecting in the 1st round, culminating with my final pick. Hope you have some fun with this and feel free to chime in with what you think your team should do on draft night, or if you have comments, disagreements or questions about my picks. This has been tabbed as a very deep draft, as there are a lot of good players in this year’s player pool, even going all the way down toward the end of the 2nd round. While there are no guarantees after the top pick, here is how I project the 2012 NBA Draft starting with….drum roll please…Anthony Davis of Kentucky. New Orleans you are now on the clock.
1.) New Orleans Hornets-Anthony Davis, Kentucky-PF-Fr. (6-10,222 lbs.)- The one bright spot for us mock drafters heading into Thursday is that we are guaranteed at least 1 right pick, as everyone at this point knows that Anthony Davis will be selected 1st overall by the Hornets. If this pick wasn’t a lock before, it definitely is now as New Orleans recently moved center Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza for cap space and the 46th overall pick. Anthony Davis will be one of the key building blocks of New Orleans’ rebuilding process and along with Eric Gordon should give the Hornets 2 positions of stability for the foreseeable future. Davis needs no introduction but the reigning NCAA National Player of the Year, will immediately give the Hornets an elite shot blocker who has the tools and athletic gifts to become a star in this league in the near future. Davis is a no brainer at #1, as he dominated the game on both ends as a freshman and has limitless potential going forward. Davis who was a late bloomer in terms of size, is still growing into his body, so expect him to only get better as he continues to add muscle and polish to his already impressive game. Davis is already a premiere shot blocker with a freakish 7’4” wingspan, who should only get better, which is saying something considering he was the NCAA Player of the Year as a freshman. Every knows how good Anthony Davis is on the defensive end, but most don’t realize the kind of potential and future this guy has on the offensive end, where he is still getting comfortable after growing 8 inches as a junior in high school.
2.) Charlotte Bobcats- Thomas Robinson, Kansas-PF-Jr. (6-9,244 lbs.)- This is where things get tricky as there has been a lot of speculation that Charlotte will look to swap this pick for another top 10 selection and an additional 1st round pick. The speculation has hinged largely around Cleveland and Washington, who both seem to be aligning their chips in the hope of drafting the services of Florida freshman Bradley Beal. Cleveland seems like the team most likely to move up, as they are extremely high on Beal and are sitting at #4, one pick behind Washington who looks set on taking Beal at #3, if he is available. The simple scenario here is that if Cleveland or Washington trade for this pick they are going for Beal, but if the Bobcats hold onto the pick it’s likely Thomas Robinson from Kansas or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky. It’s too hard to guarantee a trade, so I’m going make this pick assuming Charlotte holds onto it, as the Bobcats will go with Thomas Robinson at #2. The Robinson pick gives Charlotte a physical and athletic force at forward to pair with Bismark Biyombo and a player with a high motor and elite rebounding skills. Robinson is a good fit for Charlotte and after a tragic year in which he saw his mother and 2 of his grandparents pass away, Robinson deserves the biggest ovation of any prospect when he walks across the stage and is selected on Thursday night. Charlotte is a few drafts away from really competing, so don’t be surprised to see them trade down and try and accumulate a few more picks or if they do stay put, to draft a corner stone big man to build around in Thomas Robinson.
3.) Washington Wizards-Bradley Beal, Florida-SG-Fr. (6-3,202 lbs.)- Like I said before, if Washington is afraid Cleveland will move up and nab Beal at #2, the Wizards could possibly trade up one selection to get him at #2. But assuming Charlotte holds onto #2 and goes with a forward, Beal should go 3rd to Washington. Washington has made it clear Beal is their guy and on a roster with a huge vacancy at shooting guard, this pick makes too much sense. If Cleveland or someone else wipes Washington’s eye, Harrison Barnes is likely plan B but I expect the Wizards to get Beal either by moving up and taking him at 2 or staying put and having him fall to #3 overall. Beal a tremendous athlete, is a great pickup here, as in addition to his athleticism, Beal has demonstrated a smooth outside shooting stroke and has a huge ceiling in terms of potential. Bradley Beal does not really have any glaring weaknesses, and at #3 Washington should seize the opportunity to lock up their shooting guard for the future. Beal is an impressive athlete, strong rebounder and a good shooter, the only question mark surrounding him is his height, as at just 6’3”, Beal is a little short in comparison to most NBA shooting guards. Height issues aside, John Wall needs a new running mate after the trade of Nick Young, and Bradley Beal’s athleticism and shooting ability make him an upgrade and an ideal fit for Washington’s opening at shooting guard.
4.) Cleveland Cavaliers-Harrison Barnes, North Carolina-SF-So. (6-8, 228 lbs.)- Cleveland’s top choice would be Bradley Beal but in the end I think the price will be too high for the Cavs to make a move, as I see them standing pat at #4. At #4 a rebuilding Cleveland team can go a couple of different directions, as they can either look for a shooter like Harrison Barnes or go for the athletic defensive stopper in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Cleveland last season solidified the point position with Kyrie Irving and this time around I see the Cavs acquiring a weapon for their young point guard. That’s why I think Harrison Barnes goes here at #4, because his offensive game is more polished and to this point superior to that of Kidd-Gilchrist’s. When all is said and done Barnes could be the steal of the entire draft, as the former top overall recruit is a smooth 6’8 forward who has elite athleticism and a feathery touch from the perimeter. Barnes offensively is as skilled as anyone in this group and will give Kyrie Irving an offensive weapon to work with in Cleveland. Kidd Gilchrist is an intriguing pick here but Barnes’ upside and raw ability will be too much for Cleveland and Dan Gilbert to pass up with the fourth selection. I think Barnes may be the most underrated player in this talent pool because he has all the tools in place to be a star in this league, and his skills translate better to the pro game than they did the college level. Harrison Barnes is a pure scorer who can shoot from deep, get to the rim or beat you with his mid-range game, whose biggest knock is that he has had to deal with unrealistic expectations since he was in high school.
5.) Sacramento Kings- Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Kentucky-SF-Fr. (6-6, 233 lbs.)- If you look at Sacramento’s roster they have some talented players, as Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins appear to be the foundation at the moment for the Kings. Sacramento also has last year’s top pick Jimmer Fredette in the fold, as well as shooting guard Marcus Thornton and wing John Salmons. That all means Sacramento is likely looking for a small forward or a power forward in this draft, with Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Terrence Jones and John Henson being some of the top candidates. Recently though, there has been a lot of speculation about Sacramento trading down with a team like Houston, where they would be drafting Jones or Henson in the teens, rather than reaching for one of them at #5. All that being said Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a guy that many people have ranked #2 on their draft boards and if he is available at #5, it would be hard for a bottom dweller like Sacramento to justify not taking him. In the end I think it is Kidd-Gilchrist who goes 5th, as the Kings need to make a statement to their fans and the league that they are ready to win and are moving in the right direction. I think trading down here sends a bad message to everyone and quite frankly doesn’t make a whole lot of sense here, as there is a drop off in talent between picks #5 and #12 or #16, Houston’s picks. I actually feel Kidd-Gilchrist is a good fit for Sacramento, because he is a true competitor and a max effort guy, something Sacramento has lacked in recent years. Michael Kidd- Gilchrist is a player that many feel will be very successful at the NBA level because of his athleticism and competitiveness, so why would Sacramento pass that up at #5? Sacramento’s players have been accused of laying up or not giving maximum hustle in recent years, so why not bring in someone who plays every game like it’s his last and see if that desire, commitment to defense and work ethic can rub off on a few people? Kidd-Gilchrist is a steal at #5 and if he gets by Charlotte at #2, I see the Kings scooping him up at #5 because of his defense, rebounding and pure will. The only knock on Kidd-Gilchrist is his outside shooting, but this guy reminds me an awful lot of a player from last year’s draft named Kawhi Leonard. Leonard like Kidd-Gilchrist was thought to have a hitch in his outside shot, and only shot 25 percent from 3 in his 2 seasons at San Diego State. Leonard has since been named to the NBA’s 1st Team All-Rookie Team, and shot 38 percent as a rookie, not bad for a guy who supposedly couldn’t shoot. Kidd-Gilchrist will never lead the league in 3-point shooting but I could see this guy being an adequate shooter from 3-point land, which is more than good enough considering his elite skills as a defender, rebounder and most notably as a competitor.
6.) Portland Trail Blazers-Damian Lillard, Weber State-PG-Jr. (6-3, 189 lbs.)- This is a pivotal pick in the 1st round, as Portland can either go address their hole at point guard, which would set off a corresponding string of picks, or go with a center, which would result in a different string of following picks. Portland’s biggest problem is at point guard and one way the Blazers can try and solve that problem is by drafting a point guard with one of their 2 first round pick, #6 or #11. The top ranked point guard in this group is Damian Lillard of Weber State, who has impressed at workouts but has faced criticism because of questions over the competition he faced in the Big Sky Conference. Lillard has also heard a lot of criticism over the fact that he was more of a scorer than a point guard in college, something that I don’t consider a flaw but consider a product of his environment at Weber State. While Lillard was a scorer in college, he did so with amazing efficiency as Lillard averaged 24.5 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, while shooting 47 percent from the field, 41 percent from 3-point range and 89 percent from the foul line. Portland has some nice pieces in place as of right now with LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and J.J. Hickson, so in the end I think point guard is the way Portland ultimately goes toward. The other reason I see Portland going with Lillard, is that if they pass on him and go with Drummond at #6, #11 would be a bit of a reach for the next best point guard on the board Kendall Marshall. Lillard is an electric guard who can really score, and with a solid cast of characters in place, Lillard could be the missing link to what was a disappointing Blazer team in 2011-12. It is likely Lillard or Drummond in this spot for Portland, but in the end I think Portland addresses point guard and goes with “Fly Guy” Lillard at #6. Remember Portland has drafted young big men in the past (Greg Oden, Sam Bowie), so the question is have the Blazers learned their lesson, or do they gamble again on potential and risk drafting another bust. Drafting Lillard is also the safer pick, as not only is he is more NBA ready at this point than Drummond, but the middle of the draft is also much deeper with post players. Portland if they go with Lillard at #6, still will have a chance to address their weakness up front, as players like Meyers Leonard, Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Arnett Moultrie could all be available at pick #11. Portland will address their starting point guard spot with their 1st pick, as they get a guy in Lillard who is a very good shooter, has good court vision and great athleticism for a lead guard. Portland has had enough of the Raymond Felton experiment at point guard, so look for the Blazers to grab Damian Lillard here with the 6th overall selection.
7.) Golden State Warriors- Terrence Ross, Washington-SG/SF-So. (6-7, 197 lbs.)- The Warriors always march to the beat of their own drum in terms of the NBA Draft and this season I expect more of the same, as I think the Warriors will go off the board a bit and select Terrence Ross out of Washington. Ross who is predicted by most to be picked in the 12-20 range is a Golden State kind of player, as he has electric athleticism, can shoot the 3 and played in a similar fast tempo offense in college at Washington. With Stephen Curry at point guard, Klay Thompson settling in at shooting guard, David Lee at the 4 and Andrew Bogut healthy at center, SF seems to be the Warriors’ biggest need. That’s where Ross comes in, as the 6-7 wing, has great length, elite athleticism and outstanding range, all skills that would be well suited for Golden State’s high octane offense. Ross to some scouts is a huge reach here at #7, but the Warriors as a franchise are usually not too caught up on player rankings and will go with the player they like the most. I think Ross gets the call here from Golden State as he is a very skilled offensive and defensive player, who has major upside as a pro prospect. An athletic big is also a possibility at #7, as Golden State could go with the sliding Andre Drummond, or a another big like John Henson or Tyler Zeller. I think Golden State will choose to address small forward and select Terrence Ross over Dion Waiters, Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb. Some scouts may not like this pick on Thursday night, but in the long run, Ross has the talent and upside to warrant the #7 overall selection, and could be a perennial all-star down the road. Golden State may also go with the best available which could be Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ,who if Sacramento lets go at #5, will in all likelihood be available for Golden State at #7.
8.) Toronto Raptors- Dion Waiters, Syracuse-SG-So. (6-4, 221 lbs.)- Another team with a lot of holes, Toronto can also go a variety of different directions with this pick, but the Raptors will likely look to add a guard with their 1st round choice in 2012. Toronto has recently bolstered their frontcourt as they have used former 1st round picks on Andrea Bargnani, Ed Davis and Jonas Valanciunus. If Toronto is looking guard which I assume they will be, the likely options available at this position are Jeremy Lamb of UConn, Dion Waiters of Syracuse and Duke’s Austin Rivers. Waiters is the guy I think Toronto is highest on, as his strength and finishing ability has drawn comparisons to a young Dwyane Wade. I think Lamb’s passiveness on the offensive end and River’s youth and lack of upper body strength tip the balance in favor of Waiters, who many project as a better pro than collegiate player. Waiters is not a risk free pick either though, as after an uninspiring freshman season, Dion Waiters exploded onto the college basketball landscape as a sophomore, averaging 12.6 points and 2.6 assists, while becoming the best 6th man in all of college basketball. In other words, Waiters’ stock is based solely on one full season of college basketball, a season in which he didn’t even start for the Orange. Waiters is name on the rise because of his sophomore season and strong early workout but many still question whether Waiters is ready for the NBA at this point in time. The positives when discussing Waiters are his strength, NBA body, athleticism and mean streak. Waiters last season showed he could get to the rim at will and was able to finish in traffic and with contact. I think Toronto takes a gamble on Waiters as his competitiveness, upper body strength and physicality as a guard make him an attractive pick with the 8th overall selection. If Toronto does not go to with Waiters, look for Jeremy Lamb to come off the board as the smooth shooting off guard is the next highest rated guard on the board. Toronto needs a scorer, and Waiters fits the bill better than Lamb, as he is more aggressive, has a mean streak and is able to will his way to the basket when you need a bucket.
9.) Detroit Pistons-Andre Drummond, Connecticut,-C, Fr. (7-0, 279 lbs.)-Every draft has someone who slides because of team needs, an injury or some other factor and in 2012 I think that guy is Andre Drummond. Drummond may not slip at all, as he is such a huge prospect and has so much potential, but if things play out to plan I could see him sliding down a few picks. Drummond physically stands out, as he is a tremendous athlete, an excellent shot blocker and a guy who has the prototypical NBA body. On the other hand he also has a lot of flaws in his game, such as free throw shooting, an inconsistent energy level and a limited offensive face up game. All that being said he is off the board at #9, as the Pistons are searching for a young athletic center they can pair Brandon Knight with, and someone who can play center and allow Greg Monroe to move over to power forward. Drummond fits all this criteria and when all is said and done, he may be the most talented and physically gifted player in this whole player pool. Drummond has a huge ceiling potential wise but will need to work on and expand his game if he wants to become a star in this league. There is no reason Andre Drummond shouldn’t be a dominant center in the NBA in 5 years, but right now he lacks the polish, motor and experience to be that guy at the professional level. Drummond in all likelihood won’t get past 7, but if he does, the Pistons will be thrilled, as his upside and raw ability rivals anyone in this year’s draft class. Drummond if available is the pick here, as his upside is too tough to pass on at this stage in the draft. If Drummond is gone or Detroit does decide to go in a different direction, other possible selections here include John Henson, Meyers Leonard, Perry Jones III or Tyler Zeller. Austin Rivers is the wild card here, as after trading Ben Gordon, the Detroit backcourt is not as crowded as it was before and Rivers could be a potential long term running mate for Kyrie Irving, if Detroit is becoming impatient with Rodney Stuckey. This pick to me comes down to whether Andre Drummond is available or not, if he is he is the pick, if he is not look for the Pistons to go with the next best available big either John Henson or Meyers Leonard. Drummond is a feast or famine pick as he could become a dominant All-Star center or be the next big bust at center.
10.) New Orleans Hornets-Kendall Marshall, North Carolina-PG-So. (6-4, 198 lbs.)-This maybe the toughest pick to project, as New Orleans is kind of in no man’s land, as they need a point guard but seem to be reaching if Damian Lillard is off the board by #10. That being said, I imagine New Orleans would explore trading down a few spots to see if they can get an extra 2nd round pick and still get their man, Kendall Marshall at a later position. Despite what mock drafts are saying, I think New Orleans likes Kendall Marshall a lot and if they are unable to move down, will take him here at #10, because he is the best available fit in terms of team needs. Marshall would instantly give New Orleans a proven floor leader, who can lead the break and form a young backcourt partnership with scorer Eric Gordon. Marshall is one of the most unselfish basketball players I have ever watched and his vision, basketball IQ and craftiness in the lane are all off the charts for a kid who is only 20 years old. Yeah, 10th overall might be a “little” high for him because of his limited scoring ability, but he is such a good passer and such a perfect fit, that I think the Hornets take him here anyway. Marshall always makes the 4 guys on the floor with him better and with a potential alley oop target in Anthony Davis and a scoring 2 guard like Eric Gordon, Marshall could have a very long and prosperous career in New Orleans. After losing Chris Paul, New Orleans needs to invest in a point guard, so for me it is either Damian Lillard or Kendall Marshall at this pick, depending on who is available. New Orleans could also choose to go center here as Tyler Zeller and Meyers Leonard would also fill a void on the Hornets roster. The final guy many mock drafters have discussed here is Austin Rivers but in the end I don’t see the point in drafting Rivers, if New Orleans is committed to resigning Eric Gordon for the long haul, with all signs saying they are. If I’m New Orleans I am perfectly comfortable handing the key to my car (franchise) to Kendall Marshall, as he is a great decision maker who seems to always make the right play. I think New Orleans is able to get a deal done to slide down between 12-16 and take Marshall, but if not, Marshall goes off the board at #10 to the Hornets, who can’t afford to leave this draft without a point guard.
11.) Portland Trail Blazers-Tyler Zeller, North Carolina-C-Sr. (7-0, 247 lbs.)- If Portland holds onto this pick, which I think they will, this pick hinges on what the Blazers do with #6. In my draft I have Portland going point guard with Damian Lillard at #6, so that means Portland will be looking for a center to solidify their frontcourt with #11. At #11 there should be a few options in terms of big men as either Tyler Zeller or Meyers Leonard (or maybe both) could be available as could athletic forwards like John Henson or Arnett Moultire. On my board this pick comes down to Tyler Zeller or Meyers Leonard, as the Blazers already have a power forward and need a shot blocking center to play alongside LaMarcus Aldridge up front. Zeller is more NBA ready at this point, even though he may not have as high a ceiling as Leonard, so he is the frontrunner here at #11. Portland has some pieces in place to contend now so look for them to go for a polished and ready to play big man, who they can plug right in from day 1. Portland could also go with value here so John Henson, Jeremy Lamb and Austin Rivers could all be in play at #11. Portland has 2 major weaknesses on the roster and with picks #6 and #11 look for Portland to try and sure up both of those positions by selecting some combination of center/ point guard with those 2 picks. Tyler Zeller is not the most attractive pick in terms of potential, but he is a solid NBA ready player who I can see having a nice career in the NBA, due to his ability to run the floor, block shots and finish around the rim. This is another buyer beware pick as though I project Zeller to be a solid player in the league, is #11 too high for a guy I never see becoming a star.
12.) Houston Rockets- John Henson, North Carolina-PF-Jr. (6-10, 216 lbs.)- Houston now has 3 picks in this range at #12, #16 and #18, and all signs point to the Rockets trying to put together a package and trade up for 2 higher picks, as they try and add assets heading into the summer. Recently there has been talk of a potential trade with Orlando that would include a package of draft picks and players for Dwight Howard. This trade is no guarantee and in all likelihood is still a longshot but Houston will be looking to add tradable pieces. With Houston on the clock at this point I say they go with an athletic forward and with John Henson available on my board, I say he is the pick at #14. Henson has been linked to Detroit at #9 but if Andre Drummond slides past Golden State at #7, which I feel he will, he would go #9 to Detroit leaving Henson to wait until pick #12, 13 or #4. With that scenario, Houston grabs a terrific shot blocker (2.9bpg) and accomplished rebounder (9.9rpg) in Henson who continues to develop and improve as a complete basketball player. Henson has made major strides in his offensive game over the past couple of seasons and continues to grow and develop as he plays more and more high level games. I think Henson could be a steal this low if he slides, because his length and wingspan (7’5”) already make him a great shot blocker and rebounder and he still has room to grow both physically and skillfully. Henson needs to add muscle to be successful in the NBA but he is an extremely talented player who continues to get better and better with every season. Houston also is in the market for a center if the Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol trade talks fizzle out could look at Meyers Leonard at this point, or try and trade up for a guy they really like, Andre Drummond.
13.) Phoenix Suns-Austin Rivers, Duke-SG-Fr. (6-5, 203 lbs.)- The Suns are in a bit of a transition stage as they finished just outside of the playoff picture a year ago and are also set to lose longtime point guard and leader Steve Nash. Phoenix could honestly go every position except center, as point, guard, shooting guard, scoring wing and shot blocking forward are all on the Suns 2012-13 wish list. Kendall Marshall makes sense at this pick if he is available but I have a gut feeling New Orleans is going to surprise some people and scoop up Marshall at 10. If neither of the top 2 point guards are on the board, I think Phoenix looks to power forward or shooting guard with the top remaining prospects on my board being Arnett Moultrie, Austin Rivers and Jeremy Lamb. Henson and Moultrie have all the raw ability and measurables to be the pick, but I think Phoenix goes guard, so this comes down to Jeremy Lamb and Austin Rivers. Lamb really has no weaknesses in his game, as everything he does seems to be so natural and so smooth. The knock on Lamb isn’t what he does on the floor, but it is what he doesn’t do, as critics including myself think he is often times too passive and too complacent on the offensive end. Watching Lamb at Connecticut was often times frustrating, as he didn’t demand the ball enough and would go missing for stretches of play, even though he is such a good shooter and was Connecticut’s best player. I have no questions about Lamb’s ability and skill, my only question is his demeanor, as he was not aggressive enough as a sophomore at Connecticut and thus wasn’t as consistent as someone of his ability should be. Rivers on the other hand had a solid but not dominating freshman season at Duke, showcasing his ability as a ball handler, penetrator and clutch performer. Rivers to start is not shy as he plays with a confidence on the floor that many young guards lack, and has illustrated he has no fear taking the last shot. Rivers has a killer crossover at shooting guard and has a nice 3-point stroke, shooting a solid 36 percent from 3 as a freshman. The area Rivers needs to improve is finishing in the lane, as he often times found himself in good positions to score but was unable to finish at the rim amongst the bigger bodies. Rivers needs to gain some strength to help him finish and play against contact and also could improve his shot selection and decision making which was sometimes questionable as a freshman. I think Rivers is the more intriguing guy at this spot because of his makeup, ability to play both guard positions and aggressiveness, and believe he will go to Phoenix at 13. Phoenix by all accounts really wants Dion Waiters but with Waiters likely to go #7 or # 8 to Golden State or Toronto, Rivers is their Plan B. Rivers’ stock has been rising in the week leading up to the draft so there is no guarantee he will be available at this spot, but if he is look for the Suns to take the talented young guard because of his offensive skills and confidence. Phoenix has a lot of possibilities at #13 but if Waiters and Marshall are off the board, look for Phoenix GM Lance Blanks to go Austin Rivers or Jeremy Lamb with that selection.
14.) Milwaukee Bucks-Meyers Leonard, Illinois-C-So. (7-1, 250 lbs.)- Last season Milwaukee swapped All-Star caliber center Andrew Bogut for an All-Star caliber scoring guard in Monta Ellis. That trade hints that Milwaukee will look to fill their void at center, in a draft that features a plethora of highly rated and talented big men. Milwaukee may be tempted to go with John Henson if he’s available at this spot because of his athleticism, but center is a more pressing need and Tyler Zeller or Meyers Leonard make the most sense for the Bucks. Going into next season Milwaukee is built around their backcourt of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, so look for the Bucks to go big and draft a center if Leonard or Zeller is available. I have Zeller off the board at this point, so I think Leonard is the pick, as the young center from Illinois gives Milwaukee the big body they covet, after trading Andrew Bogut. Leonard is still very young and a bit of a project but his athleticism at 7’1” and his ability to rebound, blocks shots and score from the post, make him a great pick for the future. The questions surrounding Leonard are his maturity and hunger, as he has a tendency to wear his emotions on his sleeve and also can disappear in games if not involved early on. Leonard has a solid array of post moves for a 20 year old and his shot blocking and athleticism make him a good pick in the middle of the 1st round. Milwaukee needs to look big so look for the Bucks to go with either Zeller or Leonard with this pick, granted one of them is available. Milwaukee after moving down 2 spots on Wednesday in the Samuel Dalembert trade, still need a young center, so look for Zeller or Leonard to come off the board at #14. If neither center is available at #14 or Milwaukee is dumb enough to put stock in Samuel Dalembert, the Bucks will likely look for a wing with Moe Harkless, Terrence Ross or Perry Jones being some of the top candidates.
15.) Philadelphia 76ers, Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State-PF-Jr. (6-11, 233 lbs.)-What has been Philadelphia biggest weakness over the past few seasons…Bueller? …Bueller? The answer is perimeter shooting. Philly has a plethora of young guards, but none of them (Jodie Meeks excluded) are consistent 3-point shooters. That being said Philly also really needs an athletic big man as Elton Brand is in his last year and is running out of gas and Spencer Hawes is an unrestricted free agent. Philadelphia will have to decide whether they would be better served adding an athletic big man in the draft or going with a smooth shooter like Jeremy Lamb if he were to fall to #15. Jeremy Lamb is an intriguing pick here at 15 if available but Philadelphia has used recent 1st round picks on guards (Jrue Holliday, Evan Turner,) and likely will look to add a forward. This draft does have a lot of options in terms of power forward and at #15 Philadelphia is likely looking at prospects like Terrence Jones, Perry Jones III, Arnett Moultrie and as a dark horse maybe even Jared Sullinger. Philadelphia is probably looking for someone with length and shot blocking ability, so Moultrie seems like the likeliest candidate from this group as at 6-11, Moultrie has the most length from this group and is the best rebounder remaining at this point in the draft. Moultrie definitely needs to add muscle but his athleticism, activity and mid-range shooting game would all greatly benefit the 76ers’ frontcourt. Philly is looking to get younger up front and by adding Moultrie, the 76ers have a future replacement for Elton Brand, as Brand’s career winds down. Philly already has the physical forward in Lavoy Allen and with an athletic and long player, like Moultrie, the 76ers have a nice duo to replace Brand. Philly needs to look big here, although if I were picking here I would be very tempted by Jeremy Lamb. I think Moultrie is a guy who is being rated a little highly, as he burst out of obscurity last season and is very thin for a guy of his height and length. Moultrie does have great length and can run the floor but again needs to add a lot of muscle without it affecting his athleticism, if he wants to be a good rebounder and face up scorer in the league.
16.) Houston Rockets-Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut-SG-So. (6-5,179 lbs.)- Like I said earlier it looks unlikely that Houston will be picking here, as they look to trade up or even create a package for Dwight Howard. For the sake of this mock draft, let us assume Houston is in the clock and that they are unable to complete such a deal, and are forced to select at #’s 12, 16 and 18. In my draft I have Houston going with a power forward at #14 with John Henson, so l see the Rockets looking to add a perimeter scorer, in either a shooting guard or small forward at 16 or 18. This is where our man Jeremy Lamb finally goes off the board, as after a little slide, Houston will be thrilled to nab a player of his caliber with the 16th overall selection. Lamb who I see being a very good scorer in the NBA for a long time, is a big time prospect, who had he left after his freshman season would have been selected a lot higher. The one knock on Lamb as I mentioned earlier is his lack of aggressiveness or lack of a killer instinct. Lamb as a sophomore faded in and out of games too much, even though he was unquestionably the best player on Connecticut. All that being said, this is a kid who should have a very good professional career, as he is a great athlete, a very good shooter from both midrange and 3-point territory and has great length and wingspan (6’11”) for a guard. Lamb also just has a “coolness” and “smoothness” to him, as everything seems to come easy to him, a la Kevin Durant. Lamb is as gifted as any of the guards in this draft and just needs to add strength and become more assertive on the offensive end to take his game to that next level. Houston could use help in terms of scoring and at #16 Lamb would make sense as he is a proven scorer and would be the best available player remaining on the board.
17.) Dallas Mavericks- Terrence Jones, Kentucky-SF/PF-So. (6-9, 252 lbs.) – Dallas is a year removed from an NBA title and after a rude awakening in round 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Mavericks are set to make some major changes. The biggest potential change would be the free agent acquisition of 3x All Star point guard Deron Williams, who has narrowed his list of possible destinations to Dallas and Brooklyn. Williams who grew up in Texas has been the apple of Mark Cuban’s eye for a few seasons now and would instantly make Dallas one of the key contenders for the NBA title. Regardless of what happens with the Deron Williams’ sweepstakes, Dallas will still be on the clock on Thursday night and the Mavericks need to get younger, specifically in the frontcourt, where they will likely amnesty Brendan Haywood, could lose Ian Mahinmi to free agency and have an aging Shawn Marion (34). I think Terrence Jones is a steal at #17, as this guy would have been a top 10 pick a year ago and remains a top 10 talent. Jones, who chose to come back to UK for his sophomore season and was a key player on Kentucky’s National Championship team, is now more mature and more polished than he was a season ago, a scary thought for future opponents. Terrence Jones’ numbers may have decreased as a sophomore (12.3ppg, 7.2rpg, 1.8bpg), but I see that as a blessing in disguise. as Jones accepted his role, and put winning ahead of individual numbers. Jones would provide Dallas with a young forward who can play both forward spots, rebound, defend and score inside and outside. As good as Dirk Nowitzki is offensively, we all know about his defensive deficiencies and bringing in a young talented forward who genuinely likes to defend, could only help Dallas’ chances of reasserting themselves among the West’s elite. Nowitzki is still playing very good basketball but he is not getting any younger at 34, so going with a young forward who could serve as a backup and eventually become a starter seems like a good idea. Jones is a tremendous athlete with very good length and strength and is a player I see having a better career professionally than he did in college. Jones is a bit of a jack of all trades as he fills the box score in every major category and on given nights can just take over a game with his rebounding, scoring or defense. Dallas gets one of the steals of the draft with Jones at #17, as Jones’ numbers went down mostly because of Kentucky’s balance and commitment to winning. If Dallas doesn’t go with Terrence Jones, Perry Jones could be another attractive pick at this point, as Dallas is definitely in the market for a young athletic forward. Dallas is another team that really likes Kendall Marshall but with the possibility of getting Deron Williams in free agency and the fact that I believe someone will nab Marshall before 17, look for Dallas to go to address its’ 2nd biggest need, their frontcourt.
18.) Houston Rockets-Moe Harkless, St.John’s-SG/SF-Fr. (6-9, 207 lbs.)- For the 3rd time, I DON’T see Houston picking in this spot, as they are clearly aligning their chips for a potential blockbuster trade. That being said let’s say Houston is on the clock at 18, who do they take? While center is a team desire, the only person in this area of the draft who is a true center is Fab Melo of Syracuse. That’s why I see Houston going a different direction and adding a wing/small forward to go along with their “potential” previous picks John Henson and Jeremy Lamb. While I don’t see Houston drafting here or using all 3 picks at all for that matter, if they do I think this pick comes down to a couple of players. The 1st player to consider here is Perry Jones, who is not a slam dunk to any team leading up to 18 but has a high ceiling for a guy at #18. Perry Jones on paper is a GM’s dream and has definite lottery talent, but if he slides which many think he will, Houston will have to think twice about not taking him at #18. The other guy who could go off the board here is St. John’s freshman Moe Harkless. Harkless is a prospect whose stock is continuing to sky rocket, as people are even talking about Harkless as high as #11 to Portland. Harkless is an outstanding athlete, who is in constant attack mode on both the offensive and defensive end. His length also makes him a very good shot blocker and rebounder, despite his very thin frame. Harkless is not going to be a star right away but if he is able to add muscle and become a more consistent shooter, 2 or 3 years from now I could see Harkless being a bright young star in this league. Houston struck gold last year with Chandler Parsons and if they are patient with Harkless he could develop into a star a few years down the road. If Houston still has the pick, big if, I think they go with Harkless at 18, as his athleticism, length and defensive ability make him a prototypical NBA wing. Harkless is a bit of a mystery, as he was the leading scorer on a bad team at St. John’s, and some scouts wonder if he would stick out as much on better teams. Harkless is hard to figure out but his physical tools and skills are well suited for the NBA, so if he is given time to develop I see him being an effective 2nd option as a scorer.
19.) Orlando Magic-Jared Sullinger, Ohio State-PF/SF-So. (6-9,268 lbs.)- Orlando is another team in limbo, as it looks like Dwight Howard is on the way out whether it’s this summer, at the trade deadline or next summer. Orlando also is facing Ryan Anderson leaving in free agency and could also lose Jameer Nelson who could opt out if he so chooses. Orlando needs to win now, because a massive overhaul is on the horizon, so they are either looking for a project for the future or a player who has polish and can rebound. Jared Sullinger has been the most criticized player in this year’s draft as scouts have said things like: “he is a tweener”, “he’s not a good enough athlete”, “he has a bad back”, “he’s too heavy”. That’s a lot of criticism for someone who was a unanimous All-American in both of his seasons at Ohio State. Sullinger is coming off a season in which he averaged 17.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, while shooting efficiently from the field (52%), 3-point range (40%) and the free throw line (77%). I understand there has been a lot of recent talk about him having bulging disks in his back and how those could plague and put a shelf life and a ceiling on his NBA career. Sullinger is going to slip and most likely will go outside of the lottery, due to concerns over his back and his athleticism but at #19, do you pass up a 2-time All-American? From what I’m hearing from experts and scouts Orlando likes Sullinger and is the team most likely to grab him in the middle of the 1st round. I like this pick for Orlando as I see Sullinger being a steady pro and project him as a lot better player than most scouts do. I agree Sullinger is limited athletically, but plenty of players before hi amnd plenty players who will come after him have found a niche and been successful in this league without being explosive athletes. I see Sullinger being a little better Tyler Hansbrough, as I think his rebounding ability, post moves and compete level are more important gradables for the next level, than his so-so athleticism. Sullinger was a dominant player for 2 seasons at a high level of college basketball, so I just don’t see him being a bust, as I see him having a very solid career as a 6th man or undersized starting power forward. Jared Sullinger is a below the rim power forward, who will rebound at the next level, be a decent mid-range shooter and finish around the rim, a la Paul Millsap. I’m not buying the Sullinger bust buzz, as I think this guy works hard enough and has enough offensive polish and skill to make it as a solid forward in the NBA. NBA scouts and mock drafters drool over potential and upside but in the middle of the 1st round I would be more than happy with a very solid post player who was a proven commodity at the highest levels of college basketball. Sullinger is NBA ready and would be a nice power forward for Orlando for next season and beyond, as he is strong enough and has enough moves and tricks to score without elite athleticism. Andrew Nicholson, Royce White and Perry Jones are 3 other names that could fit at this pick, but with Sullinger slipping because of health concerns, Orlando has a chance to nab a 2 time All-American pretty late in the draft, something that will be too tough to pass on.
20.) Denver Nuggets- Tony Wroten Jr., Washington-PG-Fr. (6-5, 205lbs.)- Most experts have Denver going with a forward or center here but I don’t understand why as the Nuggets still have Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Al Harrington, Kosta Koufas, Timofey Mozgov and Chris Anderson under contract and also are looking to resign center JaVale McGee, who impressed during the playoffs. Yes, Denver could benefit with an established post scorer like a Jared Sullinger, Terrence Jones or Andrew Nicholson but I think a greater need is adding another shooting guard or solidifying the backup point guard spot, with the likely departure of Andre Miller. That’s why I am going with a bit of a wild card in this spot, as I think Denver goes for a point guard and adds Tony Wroten Jr. Wroten Jr. who is huge prospect, is a jump shot away from being a top 10 pick in this draft, but has many other skills that translate to the NBA game. Wroten Jr. is far from a polished product, as he is still very young but his size(6’5”), athletic ability and ability to defend and rebound make him a very intriguing prospect. At Washington Wroten averaged 16 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, despite having no jump shot whatsoever and splitting point guard duties with Abdul Gaddy. Denver needs to replace Andre Miller, and Wroten Jr. could be that guy, as he is a guy who has great vision, explosive hops and the versatility to play as a point guard or off guard. Yes, he was a horrible outside shooter and free throw shooter in his only year in college but with the proper coaching and time to grow as a backup, I think Wroten could be a potential All-Star down the line. If Denver is able to resign JaVale McGee, which they will make every effort to do, look for Denver to surprise some people and go with Washington point guard Tony Wroten, who played in a similar style offense in college and has the athleticism and vision suited to play at an up-tempo pace. Wroten Jr. is another one of these polarizing prospects in this draft, as some experts love him, while others think he too erratic as a decision maker and not a good enough shooter to play in the league. I see Tony Wroten as a much taller Rajon Rondo, as this is a guy who has great court vision, elite athleticism, rebounds as a guard and accumulates a lot of steals. If Denver plays it safe look for Nicholson, Perry Jones, Terrence Jones, Jared Sullinger or even Fab Melo to go here, but I think Wroten could thrive in this system and is a prospect Denver should take a long look at.
21.) Boston Celtics-Royce White, Iowa State-SF/PF-So. (6-8, 261 lbs.)- The “Big 3 era” in Boston looks to be over, as Ray Allen looks to be all but gone, while KG is still pondering whether or not he should retire. In other words, Boston needs to get younger and start to build on the foundation that they have in place which at the moment consists of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Paul Pierce and young big man JaJaun Johnson. To start, I believe Garnett will return to the Celtics and play at least one more year, playing center where he was so effective the second half of the season. With Garnett back in the fold (I think and hope), Boston will look to add a big man, a young wing and an outside shooter to replace Ray Allen. At #21 I think Boston goes with a forward/wing hybrid in Royce White, who for all intensive purposes is a point guard, wrapped inside a forward’s body. White does a little bit of everything, as in his only season of college ball at Iowa State, the 6’8” bruiser led Iowa State in scoring (13.4ppg), rebounding (9.3rpg), assists (5.0apg), steals (1.2spg) and blocks (1.0bpg). White was the only player in division 1 to accomplish that feat and is the definition of a stat book stuffer. So what skills does White have that make him a prospect at the next level? Well he is an excellent rebounder, a strong finisher around the rim, has great ball handling skills for a forward, has point guard like vision and can defend 3 positions. Basically this guy does it all and should make some GM and franchise very happy come Thursday night. The question marks regarding White are few but include his well -chronicled anxiety disorder, specifically surrounding flying in airplanes, his bad free throw shooting numbers(50%) and whether or not he is a good enough perimeter shooter to play wing in the NBA. I don’t see this anxiety order being too much of an issue going forward but it is something to note, as NBA players are basically flying every other night. In terms of shooting White definitely needs to become more consistent from the charity stripe and 3-point line, both things I think he can do with more practice and more focus. This guy is a load on the low block and an extreme competitor, who wherever he goes will make an immediate impact as an elite rebounder on both ends, a good passing big man and a crafty low post scorer. White after a few early workouts stopped working out for teams, insinuating that there was a 1st round guarantee in place from some NBA team, which many believe is Boston. I’m not sure if that guarantee is from Boston but if White is available look for the Celtics to draft him with either pick #21 or pick #22.
22.) Boston Celtics-Doron Lamb, Kentucky-SG-So. (6-5, 205lbs.)- While drafting Royce White with one of their 2 first rounds picks is approaching lock status, predicting the other Celtics 1st round selection remains a crapshoot. Boston has been rumored to be looking for another power forward or center at this spot, as Kevin Garnett if he comes back is running out of miles and the Celtics’ top 3 options at center a year ago were Jermaine O’Neal, Greg Stiemsma and Ryan Hollins. The lack of center depth in Boston scares me as a Celtics fan but I am more scared that the Celtics are going to make a big mistake with this pick and reach for a center. The top 2 remaining center prospects at this point in the draft are Festus Ezeli of Vanderbilt and Fab Melo of Syracuse, two foreign born players who have a lot of upside but at this point are rather raw. That’s why I think the Celtics need to stay clear of the center position at this point of the draft and either draft another power forward behind Kevin Garnett or go for one of the top shooters in this draft to help replace Ray Allen. I have a bad feeling the Celtics are going to go with Melo with this pick, which I believe is a huge mistake, considering Melo’s lack of offensive skill, conditioning and off the court troubles. Fab Melo is a good shot blocker (2.9bpg), but for someone 7-0 255lbs Melo is not a banger and struggles rebounding the basketball, having averaging just 5.8 rebounds last season. As someone who has had Syracuse basketball season tickets the past 4 years and someone who has been around the campus over that time, I am not sold on Melo and believe he is one of the prospects who could bust out of this league in 3 or 4 years. Melo has a lot of physical gifts and has been blessed with great size, but I am not sold on his offensive game and believe his maturity and inability to “get it” are some serious red flags. If it’s not Melo at 22, the Celtics could also look to add a forward as Andrew Nicholson should be available, as could potential sliders Perry Jones, Terrence Jones or Jared Sullinger. That being said I think adding a shooter takes more precedent, as the Celtics have no one on their roster outside of Paul Pierce capable of knocking down 3-point shots. Boston needs to add a perimeter weapon to pair with poor outside shooters like Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, so I think a shooter here toward the end of round 1 is the way to go. Boston also does not pick again until #51, so if the Celtics want a shooter they need to go for it with this selection. The 2 guys who fulfill that criteria and who jump out to me at this spot are John Jenkins of Vanderbilt and Doron Lamb of Kentucky. I think Lamb is the better of the 2 players, as he is not solely a shooter but also has the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. Lamb is a proven commodity from the perimeter, as he shot 49 percent as a freshman at UK and followed that up by shooting 47 percent as a sophomore. In other words, Lamb can really shoot it, and I think he has been unfairly penalized for being the 4th or 5th best player on a team loaded with NBA talent. I don’t know if the Celtics have the guts to make this pick, but this team desperately needs a shooter and Lamb fits the bill, as he not only is an outstanding shooter but also can score in a variety of other ways.
23.) Atlanta Hawks-Perry Jones III, Baylor-SF/PF-So. (6-11, 234 lbs.)- Perry Jones once thought to the be #1 overall pick in 2011 had to wait a while, but at pick #23 Atlanta will take the most talented player left on the board and go with the Baylor forward with unlimited upside and potential. Jones, who is an option at every pick after pick #14, will slide a bit because of 2 negative factors. The first factor is Jones’ passiveness or so called “softness” and tendency to play more like a guard than someone who is 6’11”. The other question is the major question, as scouts are not sure which position the 6-11 Jones will play in the NBA, as he is too thin and perimeter oriented to play power forward but also is not a good enough shooter to be a prototypical NBA wing. Jones has a Kevin Durant like body but his perimeter skills will need to vastly improve if he wants to be a 3. Jones if he wants to play his natural position of power forward will need to add a lot of muscle, as at 6-11, 234lbs Jones wouldn’t be able to compete down low with much stronger NBA power forwards. Perry Jones reminds me of a less aggressive Lamar Odom, as he has tremendous athleticism, can really handle the basketball, can rebound and block shots, and play a few different positions. Jones is another guy who 5 years from now could be remembered as the biggest steal in the 2012 Draft or just as easily be lone gone and forgotten. I like Jones a lot, as I think there is a lot of potential in there and he just needs a veteran to push him and challenge him physically. Atlanta needs a replacement for Marvin Williams, who never really panned out, and I think the Hawks take the best player on the board and go with Jones as their pick at #23. Perry Jones has been much maligned over his collegiate career but with all that upside, I have a funny feeling Perry Jones is going to have the last laugh when all is said and done. Atlanta could also go with Tony Wroten as a backup point guard if he’s available here, or look for another forward like Andrew Nicholson or sleeper Draymond Green.
24.) Cleveland Cavaliers-Fab Melo, Syracuse-C-So. (7-0, 255 lbs.)- Like we discussed earlier, Cleveland may not have this pick if they swap with Charlotte in order to nab Bradley Beal but if they do, the Cavs will look to add another front court player, or a shooting guard to pair with Kyrie Irving. At #4 I have Cleveland going with Harrison Barnes, but even if they trade up for Beal or get Kyrie Irving, I think the Cavs address center or power forward with this selection. With Irving and in my draft Harrison Barnes, the Cavs will have 2 positions settled and with last year’s 1st round pick Tristan Thompson at power forward, center or shooting guard appears to be the biggest need. The Cavaliers would seemingly be pretty happy if Melo was available at 24 and I believe he will be due to concerns over his maturity level and physical conditioning. Melo is far from a polished project but does have upside because of his size and shot blocking ability. Melo also showed massive improvement from his freshman to sophomore season, giving many NBA executives hope that he will continue to get better as continues to learn the game. Melo is relatively new to basketball, growing up in Brazil and is still learning the game and becoming more fluid on a basketball floor. The things that worry me about Melo, are his maturity (suspended twice for academics and also had a domestic violence issue early sophomore year), conditioning, and limited offensive ceiling. Melo really does nothing offensively except finish alley oops at this point in his career, but with the properly tutelage and more experience playing basketball many scouts believe he can become a decent offensive center. Melo to me is a big question mark, as having watched him very closely over the last 2 seasons, I am not sure if this guy has the maturity or the mental or physical makeup to be an effective center. If Melo is around here Cleveland will grab him, as they already have Brazilian Anderson Varejao, who could serve as a mentor and motivator for the young center. Melo made massive strides as a sophomore losing 30 lbs. and becoming an impact shot blocker but it remains to be seen whether or not this guy can stay in NBA playing shape and develop more polish offensively. Jeffery Taylor, John Jenkins and Kim English are also options here, as Cleveland looks to continue to stockpile offensive weapons.
25.) Memphis Grizzlies-Marquis Teague, Kentucky-PG-Fr. (6-2, 180 lbs.)- Memphis has really put together a nice core over the last few years as Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay, Zack Randolph and Mike Conley give Memphis a roster that should consistently make the playoffs out of the Western Conference. Despite constant rumors about moving Rudy Gay, I think Gay stays put and the Grizzlies will look to add a backup point guard to play behind Conley, or look to add another shooting guard to make O.J. Mayo (free agent) expendable. Guys I expect Memphis to really look at here if available are Marquis Teague, Tyshawn Taylor, Kim English, Will Barton, Tony Wroten, Jeffery Taylor and John Jenkins. That being said I think Memphis could look to move this pick granted the value at this point in the draft may not be what they are looking for. I think Marquis Teague is a guy who could hang around until this pick and if he is available, would fit Memphis’ need for a backup point guard. Teague is still very young but really grew as a point guard during the 2nd half of the season for Kentucky and has a lot of upside at pick #25 if Memphis chooses to go that route. If Teague is gone or Memphis elects to address shooting guard look for Kim English, John Jenkins or Jeffery Taylor to go here. Teague would have benefited both skillfully and financially had he stayed another year at Kentucky but remains a late 1st round pick because of his quickness and passing vision. Teague becomes the 5th Kentucky player drafted in the 1st round in 2012, joining Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb, leaving Darius Miller as the lone Wildcat, remaining on the board. I’m not as high on Teague as other mock drafters or scouts, as I am not completely sold that Teague is willing to be a pass first point guard, and am also worried about his inconsistent jump shot and turnover numbers.
26.) Indiana Pacers-Draymond Green, Michigan State-SF/PF-Sr. (6-8, 236 lbs.) – Indiana is another team that has a lot of depth and will be looking for an immediate contributor, either as a role player at forward or shooting guard. Add that in with the fact that the Pacers have had a lot of experience and a lot of success drafting and acquiring 4 year college players like Danny Granger, Tyler Hansbrough, Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison, and I’m circling Indiana as a possible fit for Draymond Green. Green who was one of the most effective and more versatile collegiate players last season is coming off a season in which he averaged 16.2 points, 10.4 rebounds , 3.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1block per game, all while shooting 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from 3-point range and 81 percent from the foul line. Green is another stat sheet stuffer and almost singlehandedly carried Michigan State to a top 10 ranking last season. So why is this guy going so low and even being thought of as an afterthought to some? To start he is on the shorter side as an NBA power forward and on the heavy side for a small forward. I say so what, I don’t think Green will ever be a star but why can’t he be a Tyler Hansbrough, a Udonis Haslem, a Brandon Bass or maybe the comparison I see the most, a better rebounding Boris Diaw? I think Green will be a very serviceable and very solid player in the NBA, despite his “tweener” status, as his motor, basketball IQ, rebounding and vision are more than applicable for the NBA. Draymond Green is not the most explosive athlete, or have the prototypical NBA body but he does have a lot of useful NBA skills (passing, rebounding, energy, touch) and is a proven winner who has always defied criticisms. Green is a Pacer type of player and if Indiana goes with him at #26, they will be getting a very valuable asset who will do a lot of different things to help them win. I don’t think Green should be a lottery pick but I do think he could be a very good value pick at the end of the 1st round, as he plays hungry and does everything a team wants a role player to do in the Association. Andrew Nicholson is rated slightly higher on my board but he is often times compared with David West, who already wears the Pacers uniform.
27.) Miami Heat, Andrew Nicholson, Saint Bonaventure-PF-Sr. (6-10, 234lbs.)- We are all well versed in Miami’s team needs, as the Heat lack a consistent 3-point shooter and a reliable center who can give them 10-15 minutes a night. At pick #27 there should be some candidates for both of those positions, as shooters like Jeffery Taylor and Kim English could be available as could big men like Festus Ezeli or Fab Melo. If Melo is around, I think he is the pick but if we assume he is gone at 27, look for Miami to add the next best big man on the board, who on my draft board would be Andrew Nicholson. Nicholson is not a center but he is a long (7’4” wingspan) power forward who has a polished inside-outside game, can rebound and block shots. Nicholson would be a perfect compliment to Chris Bosh, as he is a stronger forward who can bang down low and hit the outside shot. Nicholson also is the top rated player remaining on my board and if he falls into Miami’s lap at 27 which he could, look for the Heat to scoop up the Canadian big man. Andrew Nicholson was as good as anyone in college basketball over the last 2 months of the season and possesses some of the best post moves in the entire draft. Nicholson is good value pick as this is a guy who averaged 18.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2 blocks, giving Miami a big, who is capable of scoring rebounding and blocking shots. Fab Melo is Miami’s dream here but if he is gone, look for the defending champs to go with the best big available whether that is Draymond Green, Andrew Nicholson or Festus Ezeli. Miami could also go with a shooter so Kim English, John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor are all in play but I see Miami addressing that need in free agency with a Ray Allen, Jason Terry or O.J. Mayo.
28.) Oklahoma City-Evan Fournier, Poiters Basket 86(France)-SF/SG-19 yrs. old (6-7, 206lbs.)-After a 2011 draft in which 16 international players were drafted, including 9 in the 1st round, we finally have out first foreign based player(Melo and Nicholson are international) selected as Oklahoma City selects Evan Fournier of France with the 28th overall selection. Oklahoma City came within 3 games of an NBA title this past summer and with a strong young nucleus of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden(assuming the sign him long term), the Thunder have the ability to draft for the future and grab a guy who may be a few years away. Oklahoma City will likely look for backup center or backup wing with this pick, as they are pretty solid at every other position. That’s why Fournier makes sense here, as not only is he an athletic wing/ shooting guard with huge upside, but he is also someone who the Thunder can let advance slowly over in Europe and then bring over a few seasons from now. Fournier is the only player in the 1st round who I have never seen play live, but with video highlights, the NBA’s official prospect report and a little love from my good friends over at Euroleague Adventures, I think I have a pretty solid feel and understanding of the 19 year old Frenchman’s strengths and weaknesses. To start Fournier has great length as a shooting guard/wing at 6-7 and also is a good athlete who has an aggressive scorer’s mentality. Fournier is more efficient as a slasher/penetrator at this point in his career, as his jump shot still leaves a lot to be desired, as does his defensive effort and rebounding. Like I implied earlier, Fournier is a couple years away, as like many youngsters he is still adding muscle to his frame, and polishing his perimeter jump shot. That being said at 19 years old, Fournier has a bright future and should find a role in the league as a scoring wing/shooting guard either as a starter or as a key reserve. Fournier likely won’t be in the NBA next season, but a couple years down the road this could be a nice value pick for the Thunder, who continue to stockpile athletic young players for their rotation. Festus Ezeli is another potential pick here, as the Vanderbilt big man looks the part and has the tools to be an NBA center but is still learning the game of basketball and adding polish on the offensive end. The Thunder go international here at 28 as Oklahoma City hopes they find a Nicolas Batum type of player late in round 1.
29.) Chicago Bulls-Will Barton, Memphis-SG/SF-So. (6-6, 174lbs.)- There is a lot of talk about Chicago drafting a safety net in case Derrick Rose in not healthy or going with a center in case they are unable to sign Omar Asik. On my board the best remaining point guards at this point are Tyshawn Taylor and Scott Machado, while the only center who you would consider picking here would be Festus Ezeli. For those reasons look for Chicago to go for the best available player, which for me comes down to Will Barton, Jeffery Taylor, Kim English and Quincy Miller. English would be a nice option as a young shooter behind Rip Hamilton, while Quincy Miller’s upside (once thought of as a lottery pick) may be too tough to pass on at pick #29. I think the pick comes down to Barton and Miller, as the Bulls are looking for an athletic scorer off the bench from the wing or the backcourt. If Chicago moves Luol Deng which there is talk of, than Quincy Miller is the pick if available but assuming Deng stays put, look for Chicago to go with Barton. Barton who had a breakout sophomore season for Josh Pastner at Memphis, has impressed in workouts and could be a valuable piece for Chicago because of his ability to score the ball in a variety of ways. Barton as a sophomore was named Conference USA Player of the Year, averaging 18 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists last season for Memphis. In all honesty Barton would have benefited from another season of college ball, but despite his thin frame, this guy will be effective NBA player because of his ability as a slasher and his athleticism and body control. Barton is a scorer, and if he is able to add some muscle through an NBA strength and conditioning program, he should find a role as bench scorer in the league. Barton is not a great shooter, but can hit the perimeter shot, and because of his instant offense and ability to explode, has been compared to Jamal Crawford or one of last year’s breakout players Brooklyn’s Marshon Brooks. Chicago might find a good one here with Barton, as this kid is aggressive, long and versatile and is always capable for exploding on a given night as a scorer. Think a longer and smarter J.R. Smith, as he has the ability to go off as a scorer but also buys in defensively and gets his teammates involved as a passer.
30.) Golden State Warriors- Quincy Miller, Baylor-SF/PF-Fr. (6-10, 219 lbs.)- With the last pick in the 1st round Golden State is looking for depth, as their roster is starting to take shape with Seth Curry, Klay Thompson, the #7 pick(Terrence Ross), David Lee, Andrew Bogut, Dorell Wright and Richard Jefferson all in the fold. Golden State as bad as their record was a season ago(23-43), is almost at a bit of a luxury at this pick, as they can either go with a team need(backup center, backup point guard) or add depth with the best available talent or prospect remaining. I think they do the latter, as if Quincy Miller is on the board Golden State can’t afford to pass on Miller’s potential and huge upside. Miller is blessed with an amazing combination of size and athleticism, and has legitimate guard skills, despite standing 6’10”. Miller has tremendous length, can rebound, pass, score inside and out and dribble the basketball but if he is to translate to the next level, he must mature physically and also continue to progress as a perimeter shooter. Remember Miller is just 19, so he still has time to add muscle and could eventually become a starting small forward or power forward at the NBA level. Miller’s game translated to both forward positions at the college level but in the pros, he will need to either add weight and become a 4, or improve his ball handling and perimeter shooting to play small forward. Miller has been sliding due to concerns over a knee injury he suffered at Baylor and over the question marks about his position at the next level, but the upside and reward is more than worth the risk for Golden State, if Miller is available with the last pick of the 1st round. Golden State could also go with a shooting guard like Kim English, Jeffery Taylor or John Jenkins, or maybe even solidify the backup point guard spot with Kansas’ Tyshawn Taylor. Miller has so much upside and such a high ceiling as a prospect, that Golden State can’t help but select him here at the end of the 1st round, as he will help replace Ekpe Udoh and could eventually become a star if his body matures. Quincy Miller needs to bulk up and is not going to be a star from day 1 but if the Warriors take a flier on him and are patient, they could eventually strike gold with the rangy young forward.
For Round 2 I will spare you the thorough write-ups but here are picks 31-60 and a brief explanation.
31.) Charlotte Bobcats-Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt-SF-Sr. (6-7, 212 lbs.)- Taylor is projected as a late 1st round/ early 2nd round selection, but if he gets out of the 1st round, he won’t have to wait long as Charlotte would love to add an athletic wing. Taylor is a terrific athlete and lock down defender, and made huge strides last season as a perimeter shooter, shooting 42 percent for the Commodores.
32.) Washington Wizards- Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt-C-Sr. (6-11, 264 lbs.)- Washington could use a backup center to play behind Emeka Okafor and with Festus Ezeli still on the board look for Washington to grab him here early in round 2. Ezeli is not a finished product, but his tremendous size, strength and defensive intensity, have many scouts believing he can be a solid backup center in this league.
33.) Cleveland Cavaliers-John Jenkins, Vanderbilt-SG-Jr. (6-4, 212 lbs.)- This is a bit of a coincidence but Cleveland makes Jenkins the 3rd straight Commodore to start round 2, as they get the best pure shooter in the draft, at a relatively low price. Cleveland already addressed scoring wing (Barnes) and center (Melo), so the Cavs finally grab that shooter that they covet and go with John Jenkins, who made 134 three pointers last season, shooting at a 44% clip.
34.) Cleveland Cavaliers-Furkan Aldemir, Galatasaray(Turkey)-PF-20 yrs. old(6-9, 220 lbs.)- Cleveland has back to back picks here and could use another rebounder to go with Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao. There has also been talk of Varejao being moved in recent weeks, so adding another international prospect at forward makes sense for the rebuilding Cavs. Aldemir is an elite rebounder, despite being a bit undersized and though he lacks explosive athleticism, has enough trickery and craftiness to his game to be an effective scorer around the rim.
35.) Golden State Warriors- Kyle O’Quinn, Norfolk State-C-Sr. (6-10, 241 lbs.)- Golden State came in looking for a young center to place behind Andrew Bogut, and in round 2 the Warriors address this with upstart Kyle O’Quinn. O’Quinn blew up after Norfolk State knocked off Missouri in the NCAA Tournament, but this guy has been a very good player for a long time. O’Quinn put himself on the map long before that upset win, as during his senior season, O’Quinn averaged an impressive 16 points, 10 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. There are question marks about the competition O’Quinn faced at the collegiate level in the MEAC but this guy has shown well in workouts and is worth a flier in round 2.
36.) Sacramento Kings-Miles Plumlee, Duke-C/PF-Sr. (7-0, 252 lbs.)- I’m making this pick as if the Sacramento Kings selected Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at #5, but at #36 Sacramento grabs a center in Miles Plumlee. I’m not sold on Plumlee having seen him play a lot, but apparently this guy has been tearing it up in workouts and has tested as well as any of the big men at the combine. Plumlee has a great motor and can rebound the basketball, but questions over his toughness, position in the NBA and offensive game could result in him being drafted lower than this spot.
37.) Toronto Raptors- Darius Miller, Kentucky-SF/SG-Sr. (6-7, 238 lbs.)- Toronto in round 2 will continue to look to add perimeter players and at pick #37, 2 guys stick out to me. Those 2 guys are Jared Cunningham of Oregon State and Darius Miller of Kentucky. If Toronto goes with the athletic and aggressive Dion Waiters in round 1, I think Miller is the pick here, as his 3-point shooting, unselfishness and length would all be welcomed additions north of the border. Miller is a guy who doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses and like Doron Lamb is being punished a bit, for being a role player on a team loaded with NBA Lottery talent. Miller is a guy who often times gets lost in the shuffle but if you talk to John Calipari, he will tell you just how important Miller was to UK’s success and how his leadership and unselfishness made every around him better.
38.) Denver Nuggets-Kim English, Missouri-SG-Sr. (6-6, 192 lbs.)- Another guy who will get a lot of looks in round 1, I think English goes early in round 2, as Denver could use some more backcourt shooting depth behind Aaron Afflalo. English who had a tough junior season, thrived as a senior under new head coach Frank Haith averaging 14.5 points and shooting 46 percent from downtown.
39.) Detroit Pistons- Kris Joseph, Syracuse –SF.-Sr. (6-7, 215 lbs.)- Detroit needs help on the offensive end of the floor, as well as at center. If Detroit gets their big man in round 1 with John Henson, Andre Drummond or Meyers Leonard, look for them to look for scorer from the wing in round 2. Kris Joseph is a guy I project as a nice fit for Detroit, as he can attack the rim off the dribble and has vastly improved his jump shot over the past 2 seasons. Joseph worked out for Detroit just 2 days before the draft, so he could be getting a long look here by the Pistons.
40.) Portland Trail Blazers- Orlando Johnson, UC-Santa Barbara-SG-Sr. (6-5, 224 lbs.)- At #40, Portland is back on the clock for their 3rd pick of the draft, as they look to retool after a very disappointing season. Portland with their first 2 picks will go with a center (Zeller) and a point guard (Lillard), so in round 2 the Blazers will look for some bench scoring. One scorer who would look good in a Portland uniform is Orlando Johnson out of UC-Santa Barbara. Johnson who is not a household name because he plays in the Big West, is a big time scorer(19.7ppg), who brings scoring, size, athleticism and energy to the backcourt. Johnson is a strong guard who can score in a variety of ways and could be a sparkplug off the bench in this league for a long time to come.
41.) Portland Trail Blazers- Mike Scott, Virginia-PF-Sr. (6-9, 241 lbs.)- With back to back picks in round 2, Portland will look to add frontcourt depth and rebounding to an already solid core. Mike Scott makes a lot of sense here, as the big man has been dominating workouts, is a tenacious rebounder and is an inside-outside threat as a scorer. Scott has a lot of offensive polish in comparison to many of the other forwards in this draft and plays with great strength and intensity on both ends.
42.) Milwaukee Bucks- Khris Middleton, Texas A&M-SF/SG-Jr. (6-8, 216 lbs.)- The Bucks could use a scoring wing or small forward, as right now their only option at that spot is Mike Dunleavy. Milwaukee if they go with a big and not a wing in round 1, address that need here, as Texas A&M’s Khris Middleton falls to them at pick #42. Middleton is a player who had a great sophomore season but like Texas A&M as a team last year, Middleton really struggled, hurting his draft stock exponentially. Recently though, Middleton has started to attract some buzz, as he has worked out well and has a smooth mid-range offensive game and nice length for a small forward.
43.) Atlanta Hawks-Scott Machado, Iona-PG-Sr. (6-2, 206 lbs.)- The Hawks need a backup point guard behind Jeff Teague and midway through round 2, the 2nd best passing guard in this class would be a steal. Scott Machado can do it all, as he is a wizard as a distributor, a decent outside shooter and a guard who will rack up a lot of steals. Some think Machado is too small to play at the next level, but a guy with such great point guard instincts and quickness, will find a niche in this league. Low risk, high reward here, as Machado could become a very good NBA guard, if he is able to overcome his lack of size.
44.) Detroit Pistons-Jared Cunningham, Oregon State-SG-Jr. (6-5, 188 lbs.)- On the clock for the 2nd time in round 2, look for Detroit to add another wing or a shooting guard, now that they have traded Ben Gordon. Cunningham is another low risk, high reward player, as he may be the best athlete in the entire player pool and also can be a game changer on the defensive end (2.5spg). Cunningham will be able to defend in the NBA with his length and athleticism, the only question is whether or not he will be a good enough shooter to be an offensive weapon at the NBA level. Cunningham is a prototypical slasher with elite athleticism, who if he were to improve his outside shooting could be one of the best finds in round 2.
45.) Philadelphia 76ers-Darius Johnson Odom-Marquette-SG-Sr. (6-3, 212 lbs.)- Like I said earlier Philly would really love to add a shooter in this draft, with Darius Miller, Kevin Murphy and Kim English being some of their 2nd round targets. With Miller and English likely well gone at this stage of the draft, look for Philly to go with either Murphy or Johnson-Odom, with DJO being the favorite because of the level of the level of competition he faced in college. Johnson-Odom is very small for a shooting guard in the NBA but his competitiveness, shooting stroke and will, could make him stick in the league. DJO a former juco transfer has always defied expectations and critics, so don’t count him out at the next level, just because he is a few inches too short. In terms of an NBA comparison, I could see Johnson- Odom becoming a C.J.Watson, Delonte West type of guard in the NBA.
46.) New Orleans Hornets- Kevin Murphy, Tennessee Tech-SF-Sr. (6-6, 194 lbs.)- At pick #46 New Orleans is back on the clock and looking to continue their rebuilding effort. After grabbing Davis at #1 and then maybe going with Kendall Marshall at #10, New Orleans has added 2 nice pieces to go alongside Eric Gordon. In round 2, New Orleans will look to add a power forward who can rebound or a wing who can score depending on the best available prospects. At #46, I see New Orleans having an opportunity to grab an accomplished shooter and scorer like Kevin Murphy. Murphy who is mystery man to most NBA fans, is a big time scorer (20.6ppg), who can really shoot (42% from 3-pt range). Murphy is a good athlete and a very good shooter, who could be a weapon off the bench in terms of instant offense. New Orleans is having a very nice draft and if they can add Murphy here, they would be adding another piece to a team that is moving in the right direction.
47.) Utah Jazz-Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas-PG-Sr.(6-3, 180 lbs)- The Jazz don’t have a 1st round pick but have been looking to move up into the 1st round by possibly shopping one of their post players(Paul Millsap), in exchange for a 1st round selection. There hasn’t been much tangible evidence that a deal is in place or is feasible at this point, so we will assume Utah is making their 1st pick of the draft at #47. Like I said, Utah is loaded in the frontcourt but could use a wing, shooting guard or even a point guard to round out their roster. In the middle of round 2, backup point guard could be a strong possibility, as Tyshawn Taylor will be available and could fit nicely into Utah’s future plans. Taylor who has matured a lot over the past few years, is a dynamic guard who can score and facilitate and could be a good value pick for the Jazz at 47. Robbie Hummel is another guy who could go here, as he is classic Jazz type of player, who may go undrafted or be picked as high as here.
48.) New York Knicks-Drew Gordon, New Mexico-PF-Sr. (6-9, 239 lbs.)- The draft is not at MSG this year, nor are the Knicks involved in the 1st round, but finally at pick #48 the fans in blue and orange jerseys can get ready to boo their pick. In the 2nd round New York will look for help in terms of rebounding up front or help at shooting guard, with players like Jae Crowder, Drew Gordon, Quincy Acy and Kevin Jones as options. I like Gordon with this pick, as he is a strong body who will bang down low, work hard and rebound the basketball. Gordon is a good athlete and an elite rebounder, who despite being a little undersized will be able to rebound at the next level. This pick won’t wow the New York faithful but does help them fill a hole, by adding frontcourt depth.
49.) Orlando Magic-Hollis Thompson, Georgetown-SG/SF-Jr. (6-8, 206 lbs.)- Orlando in round 2 could use some perimeter help, as they face uncertainty regarding Ryan Anderson and Jameer Nelson. One option for Orlando here is a long athletic shooter like Hollis Thompson of Georgetown. Thompson at 6-8, has tremendous length, great athleticism and a smooth outside stroke but needs to add weight to his tall and skinny physique. Thompson also needs to improve the rest of his perimeter skills, such as outside shooting and ball handling, if he is to convert himself into a shooting guard in the NBA. Thompson was rated very highly early on in the draft process but at this point has become a bit of an afterthought. That being said, Thompson has a lot of potential and has value here because of his length, athleticism and outside stroke.
50.) Denver Nuggets-Thomas Satoransky, Banca Civica (Czech Republic)- SF-20 yrs. old (6-7, 201 lbs.)- Denver has one of the deepest rosters in the NBA and also is not afraid of taking an international player (Fernandez, Galinari, Mozgov, Koufas), so all signs point to Denver picking a foreign based player and stocking him away for the time being. That player might be Satoransky, who is an athletic wing who can handle the rock, defend and facilitate and score. Satoransky needs to add muscle to his frame and become more consistent as a jump shooter, but his energy level, athleticism and point guard skills make him an intriguing project a few years down the road. This is a guy who won’t be in the states next season, but is a guy who could make some noise a few seasons from now.
51.) Boston Celtics-Quincy Acy, Baylor-PF-Sr. (6-8, 224lbs.)- Alas my beloved Celtics are back on the board and at pick #51, I see them going with another big man whether it be a center or power forward. In terms of centers, Robert Sacre, Henry Sims and Justin Hamilton are on the board, while at power forward players like Quincy Acy, JaMychal Green, Kevin Jones or a Jae Crowder could be an attractive choice. I like Acy at this pick, as the 6-8 forward is an explosive athlete and rugged rebounder who could help Boston’s rebounding woes. Acy has an unmatchable motor and can run the floor and finish with the best of them in transition, making him a valuable asset this late in round 2. Acy is a guy who works his tail off and bangs down low and could be the Kenneth Faried of this year’s draft. Henry Sims also makes a lot of sense for Boston, as the Celtics are looking for a center, and have always been fond of skilled and unselfish big men.
52.) Golden State Warriors-Jae Crowder, Marquette-SF-Sr. (6-7, 241 lbs.)- The Warriors have been stockpiling talent at a variety of positions, having already had 3 selections to this point in the draft. At this point, Golden State is likely looking for the best player available and if they are trying to contend next year, which many believe they are, they will likely be looking for an NBA ready player or an international guy they can store away abroad for a year. I believe Golden State is going to go for a veteran from the college ranks and Jae Crowder fits the bill. It’s not often that you’re able to add the Big East Player of the Year this late in the draft, but because of concerns over his height and questions about what position he will play, Jae Crowder is projected toward the middle to end of round 2. If he is around Golden State will be happy to take a flier on him, as Crowder is a strong rebounder, inside-outside scorer, stat sheet stuffer and strong defender, who I can’t see failing. Crowder plays extremely hard and does a lot of things well, so he should help a team if he is selected late in round 2.
53.) Los Angeles Clippers- Kostas Papanikolaou, Olympiacos (Greece)-SF-21 yrs. old (6-8, 230 lbs.)- Another team that can afford to stock someone away in Europe for a season, the Clippers will likely look at international prospects like Papanikolaou and Tornike Shengelia. Papnikolaou is the guy that I see the Clippers grabbing, as if he is available he gives a team an aggressive, high energy wing who defends and can even shoot the basketball. Not a dominant athlete or the best shooter, but his motor is what separates him from the rest of the pack, as Papanikolaou plays with an aggression and intensity you don’t find in many players.
54.) Philadelphia 76ers-Kevin Jones, West Virginia-SF-Sr. (6-7, 251 lbs.)- At this point in the draft, most NBA executives are looking to add depth, by choosing the best available player left when your team is on the clock. At pick 56, I think one of those guys could be Kevin Jones, who was a successful 4 year college player and has a reputation as a hard worker and fierce competitor. You can give me all the reasons you want about why Kevin Jones won’t succeed at the next level but I don’t want to hear it. If I was an NBA GM I would more than happy with taking a chance on an undersized guy, who is a terrific offensive rebounder and is coming off a senior season in which he averaged 20 points and 11 boards. Jones is not flashy but he is a winner, and I can guarantee you that if this guy is picked, he will put on his hard hat every day and work his tail off for his team.
55.) Dallas Mavericks- Tornike Shengelia, Belgacom Spirou (Georgia)-SF-20 yrs. old (6-9, 220 lbs.)- Another team who may have the luxury to select an international project and stash him away for a year or 2, Dallas is a nice fit for native Georgia Tornike Shengelia. Another guy I have not seen as much of because he plays abroad, scouts say Shengelia is a great athlete who can handle the ball and attack the rim. Shengelia lacks a consistent jump shot at this point, but his motor, athleticism and rebounding ability will result in him being selected in round 2. Shengelia likely has some sort of 2nd round guarantee in place with some club, so Dallas could be the team near the bottom of round 2 that takes off the board.
56.) Toronto Raptors- Alex Young, IUPUI-SG/SF-Sr. (6-6, 216 lbs.)- Toronto continues to look to add perimeter players in round 2, and at the bottom of the 2nd round, Alex Young of IUPUI seems like a nice fit. Young has more pros than cons as a prospect, as he is long at 6’6”, a terrific athlete, a solid defender and a good rebounder. This is a guy I have seen about a dozen times, so I’m confident vouching for him here at pick #56. Alex Young was one of the better kept secrets in college basketball over the past few seasons and with Toronto looking for perimeter scorers, look for him to come off the board here, granted he’s still available. Young doesn’t have the buzz of some other prospects in this draft because of his relative obscurity in the Summit League but trust me this guy is a gifted basketball player, who will be able to score in the league.
57.) Brooklyn Nets, Marcus Denmon, Missouri-SG-Sr. (6-3, 183 lbs.)- As of right now Brooklyn’s roster looks rather thin at almost every position, as the only players the Nets have guaranteed under contract for 2012-13 are MarShon Brooks, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro and Jordan Williams. You don’t need me to tell you that Brooklyn needs a lot of help, as that cast of characters speaks for itself. At pick #57 Brooklyn is looking to create a little buzz, as it is their 1st and only selection and they are the hosts. Brooklyn will be looking for a proven college player, who has at least one polished NBA skill. I think the 2 top candidates for this pick are William Buford of Ohio State and Marcus Denmon of Missouri, but don’t count out tri-state area product Tu Holloway, who could be a sleeper here because of his toughness and scoring ability. I like Denmon the most of anyone in this group, as despite being undersized (6’3”), Denmon can be an explosive scorer with his athleticism and 3-point shooting. Denmon averaged 18 points and 5 rebounds for Mizzou last season, and will hope someone will take a chance on him, based on his collegiate production. Jason Terry has transitioned nicely into a shooting guard despite being just 6’2”, so there is hope for Denmon, who is a hard working kid, who excelled over the past 2 seasons at Missouri.
58.) Minnesota Timberwolves- Cameron Moore, UAB-PF-Sr. (6-9, 228 lbs.)- Minnesota faces the possibility of being without Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph next season, as both are restricted free agents. For that reason, look for Minnesota to add an athletic wing or power forward with their only selection of the 2012 Draft. I think this pick comes down to Cameron Moore of Alabama-Birmingham and a bit of a wild card in Eric Griffin of Campbell. Both players are gifted athletes, strong rebounders and accomplished shot blockers, but I give Moore the edge because he has more muscle and is the more filled out prospect physically.
59.) San Antonio Spurs- Henry Sims, Georgetown-C-Sr, (6-11, 251 lbs.)- The Spurs have been actively shopping DeJaun Blair and if they are to move him, could afford to draft a possible replacement. In Sims, the Spurs get their type of big man, as Sims can handle the basketball, rebound, block shots, score inside and out and pass the basketball. The Spurs thrive on ball movement and Sims’ excellent passing vision and ability seem to be a perfect match, for a team who could be in the market for a center. Sims exploded as a senior and served as the Hoyas de-facto point guard averaging 11.6 points, 6 rebounds and almost 4 assists per game.
60.) Los Angeles Lakers- JaMychal Green, Alabama- PF-Sr. (6-9, 220 lbs.) So who is going to be the lucky guy who can claim he was the 2012 NBA Draft’s equivalent to Mr. Irrelevant? The Lakers are finally present at the NBA Draft, as they join the party just in time, at pick #60, and look to add a role player who can help them down the road. I think LA should look long and hard at a guy named JaMychal Green, out of Alabama with this pick. Green is a 4 year player who improved each and every season in Tuscaloosa. Green is a good athlete, a very good shot blocker and a crafty low post scorer, who should find a spot in this league, whether he is drafted or not. I really like Green, because he is a fearless competitor, who always gives max effort on both ends of the floor. Green would be a nice pick for Los Angeles this late in the draft, as he is an NBA caliber defender, athlete and low post scorer, who just needs to strengthen his body and keep improving his face up game.