The 2012 NBA Draft is ridiculously strong. Anthony Davis is the prize, but no one would be surprised if a lot of the players picked from 2 through 16 end up being crucial parts of their team.
What will make draft day on June 28 extra exciting is that, after Davis, nearly any player could be selected at any time: there’s no consistency as to who gets taken second and beyond. That itself shows how deep this year’s draft class is. It could contend with 2003 (responsible for producing 8 all-stars plus a few players who have played major minutes for playoff teams) as the best draft class this century. So here it is, a two-round mock draft, along with some sleeper picks who could make an impact.
1. New Orleans Hornets – PF Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Easy choice, assuming his long arms don’t shrink, he doesn’t lose his athletic ability to Ben and Jerry pints, and his freakish defensive instincts remain among the best even compared to some centers who have been in the league for years. New Orleans has one of those rare can’t-miss prospects the league hasn’t seen since Derrick Rose in 2008.
2. Charlotte Bobcats – SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
Things immediately get difficult to predict after that. Any of the four players could be taken at this spot instead of Kidd-Gilchrist. But Michael Jordan will drool over his commitment, physicality, and the possibility of pairing him with Kemba Walker to start building a run-and-gun core in Charlotte.
3. Washington Wizards – SG Bradley Beal, Florida
Nothing specific jumps out about Beal, but he’s very skilled all-around, making him ready to contribute the second he steps on a professional court. A Beal / John Wall tandem could morph into one of the best backcourts in the league.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers – SF Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
The Cavaliers are reportedly very high on Harrison Barnes and rightfully so. Barnes proved to be a great scorer this season, dropping 17 points per game while shooting 44% from the floor, giving the Cavs another scorer they desperately needed.
5. Sacramento Kings – C Andre Drummond, Connecticut
If you hate hearing words like “potential,” “lengthy,” “raw” and “up-side,” I suggest you mute the TV when Drummond gets drafted. Because of this, though, he might jump up to the second pick if Charlotte thinks it needs a center. He’ll be immediate help on defense since his defensive insticts are even better than Anthony Davis’s. This article will give a more in-depth view of what he needs to work on.
6. Portland Trailblazers – F Thomas Robinson, Kansas
Thomas Robinson is the last of the first-tier players. He’s a man’s man on the court. He grabs strong rebounds, attacks the basket, and always plays with the intensity of a great leader.
7. Golden State Warriors – PF Terrence Jones, Kentucky
8. Toronto Raptors – SG Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
9. Detroit Pistons – PF John Henson, North Carolina
Henson and the Pistons are one of those perfect couples where you can already see that player wearing the team’s uniform and becoming a solid starter. It’d be a shock if Detroit doesn’t take him. The Pistons need someone to protect the rim; Henson averaged nearly three blocks per game. They need someone to clean up the boards; Henson grabbed about 10 per game. He’s a flawless fit for the red, white and blue.
10. New Orleans Hornets – PG Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Here’s a scary thought: the best point guard in the NCAA last season (Marshall) paired with the best player in the NCAA last season (Davis). With Marshall’s unmatched ability to handle an offense feeding Davis easy baskets, the Hornets could become a playoff team in as early as three seasons.
11. Portland Trailblazers – PG Damian Lilliard, Weber State
12. Milwaukee Bucks – C Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
13. Phoenix Suns – PF Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Sullinger is most likely going to be the guy who drops due to his small size and heavy frame (6′ 9″, 260 lbs.) Scouts have also pointed to his poor jump shot and how he might have trouble guarding the faster power forwards in the league. What can’t be held against him is his will to win. Ohio State was 65-11 with Sullinger the past two seasons. Where he’s selected depends entirely on where general managers decide to look.
14. Houston Rockets – C Meyers Leonard, Illinois
On the other hand, someone who has a chance to rise in the draft is Illionis’ 7′ 1″ tower Meyers Leonard. He won’t drop any lower than this after having a spectacular draft combine. GMs will love his size and the workload he had to carry for the Fighting Illini.
15. Philadelphia 76ers – F Perry Jones, Baylor
16. Houston Rockets – SG Austin Rivers, Duke
17. Dallas Mavericks – SG Dion Waiters, Syracuse
18. Minnesota Timberwolves – SG Evan Fournier, France
19. Orlando Magic – SF Moe Harkless, St. Johns
20. Denver Nuggets – PF Royce White, Iowa State
White could be the late-round steal we talk about in five years. His strength and use of his body is among the best in the draft, allowing him to penetrate from nearly any spot on the court. His rebounding is solid (9.3 per game) but he will still need to improve it due to only being 6′ 8″. If he can develop his jump shot into something acceptable, he’ll be extremely versatile on offense considering he was one of the best passing big men in the NCAA last season averaging 5 per game. He’ll be someone to follow as he develops.
21. Boston Celtics – PF/C Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
22. Boston Celtics – SF Terrence Ross, Washington
23. Atlanta Hawks – C Fab Melo, Syracuse
Here’s another player who’ll cause you to mute your TV. Melo has a lot to improve on in every aspect. With the Hawks, though, he’ll get the developmental time he needs. Being in the playoffs every year should give him a competitive advantage. Melo being slotted next to Al Horford will give Atlanta a devastating front court.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers – SG Doron Lamb, Kentucky
25. Memphis Grizzlies – PG Marquis Teague, Kentucky
26. Indiana Pacers – SG Orlando Johnson, UC Santa Barbara
27. Miami Heat – C Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
28. OKC Thunder -PF Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
29. Chicago Bulls – SG John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
30. Golden State Warriors – SF Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt
1. Charlotte Bobcats – SG Jared Cunningham, Oregon State
2. Washington Wizards – SF Quincy Miller, Baylor
3. Cleveland Cavaliers – SF Will Barton, Memphis
4. Cleveland Cavaliers- G Tony Wroten, Washington*
As one of the more under-the-radar guards, Wroten could move into the first round if somebody really wants a strong combo guard. The lefty goes to the rim hard (he was fifth in the country in free throws attempted). This is another player who could contribute to a bad team instantly.
5. Golden State Warriors – SF Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas
6. Sacramento Kings - F Draymond Green, Michigan State*
Green is a tough player to predict. He’s arguably the best leader in the class but is undersized to play power forward. He wills his way to buckets but won’t be able to out-muscle everyone anymore. His passing is fantastic and he’s a very intelligent player, yet his lack of athleticism is going to hinder him on both sides of the ball. If he’s taken in the first round, it’d be considered a reach, although anyone who takes him in the second round might come away with a steal.
7. Toronto Raptors – SF Darius Miller, Kentucky
8. Denver Nuggets – F Jae Crowder, Marquette
9. Detroit Pistons – F Kevin Jones, West Virginia
10. Portland Trailblazers – PF Drew Gordon, New Mexico
11. Portland Trailblazers – F Kyle O’Quinn, Norfolk State
12. Milwaukee Bucks – PF JaMychal Green, Alabama
This is the token “solid player but has character issues” guy. His lack of statistical improvement from junior to senior season doesn’t help him out, either. Still, he’s a relatively efficient scorer and was the anchor on the 9th-best defense in the country. What hurts him is his efficient ability to get suspended. His suspensions — three times in four years at Alabama — will do damage to his draft stock. So whoever is willing to look past that risk might uncover a decent player late in the draft.
13. Atlanta Hawks – PG Tu Holloway, Xavier
14. Detroit Pistons – SG Kevin Murphy, Tennessee Tech
15. Philadelphia 76ers – PF Furkan Aldemir, Turkey
16. Washington Wizards – PF Mike Scott, Virginia
17. Utah Jazz – PG Scott Machado, Iona
18. New York Knicks – SG Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette
19. Orlando Magic – G J’Covan Brown, Texas
J’Covan Brown is a testament to how deep this draft truly is. Usually someone who averages 20 points per game would be a lock for the first round. The two things hurting Brown, though, are his size and the pool overflowing with talented players. At 6′ 2″, he isn’t severely undersized, so he still has a chance to become a good player. At worst, he will end up as a scorer coming off the bench.
20. Denver Nuggets – SG William Buford, Ohio State
21. Boston Celtics – PF Kosta Papanikolaou, Greece
22. Golden State Warriors – PG Maalik Wayns, Villanova
23. Los Angeles Clippers – SG Kim English, Missouri
24. Philadelphia 76ers – SF Kris Joseph, Syracuse
25. Dallas Mavericks – C Miles Plumlee, Duke
26. Toronto Raptors – PF Herb Pope, Seton Hall
27. Brooklyn Nets – F Ricardo Ratliffe, Missouri
28. Minnesota Timberwolves – F Mitchell Watt, Buffalo
29. San Antonio Spurs – F Robbie Hummel, Purdue
30. Los Angeles Lakers – G Casper Ware, Long Beach State