The 2012 NBA Draft is tonight! Quite a few definite changes to this mock from my last one. I am not considering trades when doing this mock, simply because there are too many rumors to get a good handle on the truth. I have added NBA ceilings for all first round picks – I haven’t posted their floors. It should be evident from past drafts that even the best looking prospect can be a complete bust. Just to make clear, I am not saying that these players will become the selected NBA counterpart, just that their games and career arcs could be similar if given the perfect storm of circumstances. Hustle points are a combination of different activity related stats averaged over 36 minutes. These are not pace adjusted. In the future they will be. For reference purposes, this stat helps to show how much a player affects the game – big men traditionally will score higher than guards.
This mock draft will be updated all day up until the draft. Straight after the draft I will compare my draft with the actual draft for accuracy (eek) and I will have a thorough analysis of all first round picks coming up right after the draft.
1. New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis Writing about a sure thing number 1 pick is rough. There’s nothing exciting or new to write each week. So I thought I’d look at how Anthony Davis projects as a rookie. Davis is going to have to play power forward as his main position. If you watched him against Withey in the Final 4, you would have seen that he struggles to hold his ground against bigger and stronger back-to-the-basket players. He does make up for some of it with quick hands, and anticipation. I expect that he will get bullied by tough veteran teams like Memphis, Chicago and the Lakers. I do think he will get 30mpg, and he should put up about 10-12ppg, 7-8rpg and 2bpg. His scoring will come in transition as he is very fast up and down the court, on put backs/ tip ins, back door cuts/ lobs, and some pick and pop play. Davis has no post up game so to speak. I don’t think he’s going to be the rookie of the year, but he will make an impact on the Hornets. Hustle Score: 26.55 Elite skills: shot blocking, rebounding, defense. NBA ceiling: Kevin Garnett.
2. Charlotte Bobcats – Thomas Robinson I have heard that he has a low ceiling, but to me he is a guy that is only just discovering what he can do. I think his floor is a career starter, and his ceiling would go all the way to Karl Malone. He has improved his shooting considerably every season, and he has every tool you could want in a rookie power forward – he just needs refinement. He is my pick for rookie of the year, and he helps people start to forget about Kwame Brown. Hustle Score: 25.69 Elite skills: rebounding, strength. NBA ceiling: Karl Malone.
3. Washington Wizards – Bradley Beal If Cleveland doesn’t trade up to number 2, Beal will be the pick here for the Wizards. He should be an excellent compliment to John Wall, by providing great outside shooting, and a secondary shot creator. The Wizards stand to improve greatly by adding Beal to a nucleus of Wall, Okafor, Nene, Ariza, Crawford and a host of young players. Hustle Score: 15.62 Elite skills: shooting, rebounding for a guard. NBA ceiling: Eric Gordon
4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist MKG is very active all over the court, if I were to look at his hustle score I would see that he would survive in the NBA on effort alone, however being a lottery pick carries loftier expectations. He better develop some part of his game (other than man to man defense) to an elite level if he wants to not be called a reach. The Cavs get a winner here, but Irving needs help offensively. Hustle Score: 19.09 Elite skills: defense. NBA ceiling: Gerald Wallace.
5. Sacramento Kings – Andre Drummond The Kings aren’t sold on anyone at this spot, and will most likely trade out. Drummond and Cousins could form a spectacular pair, but I question who guards stretch 4′s out of the two of them. Drummond has been slipping due to unimpressive individual workouts and his questionable motor. Hustle Score: 20.15 Elite skills: defense, athleticism. NBA ceiling: Dwight Howard.
6. Portland Trailblazers – Damian Lillard has an impressive all around game – I’m interested to see if he can play point guard at the next level, or if he’s a combo guard like Steve Francis or Russell Westbrook. The Blazers are very high on him, and do not want to chance Lillard being off the baord when they pick at 11, as most of the teams picking between 7 to 10 have varying levels of interest in him. Picking him over Drummond may be a big mistake, but the Blazers are in win now mode. Hustle Score: 21.49 Elite skills: shooting, creating shots. NBA ceiling: Kevin Johnson sans elite play-making
7. Golden State Warriors – Harrison Barnes The Warriors are heavily rumored to be in love with Waiters, but fills a direct need and he’s the higher ranked prospect. He is a UNC kid, and he should be able to start at small forward from day one. Barnes projects to be an excellent defender in the NBA. Hustle Score: 16.64 Elite skills: shooting, defense. NBA ceiling: Glen Rice on offense, Luol Deng on defense
8. Toronto Raptors – Austin Rivers The Raptors are looking for a rookie who can come in and score off the bench. They are also looking for a potential franchise player, ebcause it’s clear they currently do not have one on their roster. The nice thing about Rivers is that he actually wants to go to the Raptors. The FO often struggle to get players to want to play in Toronto, but Rivers is a different type of player. He recognizes that he has a chance to big the big fish in Toronto. Hustle Score: 13.01 Elite skills: scoring. NBA ceiling: A cross between Ben Gordon and OJ Mayo
9. Detroit Pistons – John Henson Henson has the largest draft range other than Terrence Ross. He’s rumored to go as high as 5 to the Kings, and could possibly still be on the board at 20. Henson has a lot of flaws to me; weight, shooting, unathletic, and a lack of a true position. The Pistons are in love with Drummond but may settle on Henson if they can’t trade up. First thin on Henson’s agenda is asking where Daye and Prince buy their clothes. Hustle Score: 23.38 Elite skills: Shot blocking. NBA ceiling: Andrei Kirilenko
10. New Orleans Hornets – Tyler Zeller A poor man’s Pau Gasol. A more skilled version of Jeff Foster. I’ve heard a few different comparisons for Zeller and they’re all white (yeah, I called a Spanish guy white – he’s closer to Pete Chilcutt than Ivan Johnson). Zeller does a lot of things well, but fails to demonstrate an elite skill. Zeller should be a terrific compliment from day 1 beside Anthony Davis. New Orleans will get an A+ from me on draft night if they come away with these two winners. Hustle Score: 26.29 Elite skills: None. NBA ceiling: Samuel Dalembert.
11. Portland Trailblazers – Dion Waiters The Blazers have a hole at center. Waiters has a lot of value around the league, there will be teams trying to take this pick from the Blazers. Waiters’ best skill coming in to the NBA will be his ability to get to the hole and finish acrobatically ala Dwayne Wade and Russell Westbrook – two players who duked it out in the finals. I have the Blazers taking two guards in the first round, I think Waiters can be a great reserve guard for the Blazers from day 1, playing behind Lillard and Matthews. Hustle Score: 14.19 Elite skills: Creating offense going to the hoop. NBA ceiling: Monta Ellis.
12. Houston Rockets – Meyers Leonard I don’t think Houston stays with this pick. If they do, they are replacing Samuel Dalembert with Samuel Dalembert. Leonard has been labelled an immature player in the past, and he is very raw offensively. I would expect him to have a similar impact to Robin Lopez as a rookie. Hustle Score: 19.81 Elite skills: Athleticism. NBA ceiling: Samuel Dalembert.
13. Phoenix Suns – Jeremy Lamb The Suns need a point guard to replace Steve Nash, but Lamb is too good to pass up on here. Lamb gives the Suns a chance at having a franchise player come on board as a late lottery pick. I like the odds of Lamb turning out to be a solid NBA starter for the next 10 years. If the Suns can pick up a free agent point guard who is able to hit Lamb coming off screens, he should have a very good rookie campaign. He doesn’t contribute much, other than scoring – he’s very similar to Richard Hamilton. Hustle Score: 11.61 Elite skills: Mid-range shooting. NBA ceiling: Richard Hamilton
14. Milwaukee Bucks – Terrence Ross The Bucks are looking for size and shooting on the wing. Ross is a safe pick here. I can’t see Ross getting a lot of minutes in his rookie season due to his slender build and the glut of wing-men on the Bucks. Hustle Score: 16.32 Elite skills: Shooting, athleticism. NBA ceiling: Eddie Jones
15. Philadelphia 76ers – Terrence Jones All rookie first team for sure. Jones is the only other than Thomas Robinson, and Royce White that I see making an immediate impact in the league. All three measure well, have great strength and an array of face up moves for power forwards. Jones can effect a game defensively, and projects to be a more complete version of Lamar Odom – but with the same faulty starter motor. Jones represents the kind of players they love in Philly – hard-nosed versatile defenders. In 3 years time, I can see Jones giving LeBron headaches defensively. Hustle Score: 20.76 Elite skills: Versatility. NBA ceiling: Lamar Odom
16. Houston Rockets – Marquis Teague The Rockets will be looking for a change of pace back-up point guard, because Dragic is going to be given the keys to the offense, after seeing Kyle Lowry’s tweet, as well as understanding his disdain for McHale, Lowry as good as gone. Teague is speedy, and should help push the tempo of the second unit, who like to run. Teague could potentially be running with Dalembert, Patterson, Budinger and Ross, a very strong bench mob. Hustle Score: 9.93 Elite skills: Quickness. NBA ceiling: Jeff Teague
17. Dallas Mavericks – Kendall Marshall The Mavericks are going to want a back-up point guard regardless of what happens this off-season. Jason Kidd is likely to be going to the Warriors, and Nash and Williams are not sure things. Hustle Score: 8.50 Elite skills: Passing. NBA ceiling: Andre Miller
18. Houston Rockets – Moe Harkless The Rockets are looking to pcik the BPA if they keep these picks. Harkless is young, and has a lot of room for improvement. He shows good character, and I think he gets the nod here over bigger names like Sullinger, White and Jones III. Anyway, Harkless projects to be a good role player. Hustle Score: 18.15 Elite skills: -. NBA ceiling: Trevor Ariza
19. Orlando Magic – Fab Melo The Magic know Dwight is as good as gone. Melo should be able to step in and give them about 5 fouls in 2 minutes. Melo will be drafted on potential, but to me he seems like a Hasheem ‘The Daydream’ Thabeet. He’s a big guy that was pushed into basketball that really doesn’t care for the sport. Hustle Score: 19.84 Elite skills: Shot-blocking. NBA ceiling: Brendan Haywood
20. Denver Nuggets – Perry Jones III Huge slider! Jones fits right into the Nuggets offensive nicely– a soft power forward that believes he’s a small forward that should be able to shoot over all big forwards as well as being able to handle the ball and take it to the rack. Or he’s going to be Nikoloz Tskitishvili meets Jon Bender. I smell bust. Hustle Score: 16.88 Elite skills: -. NBA ceiling: Dirk Nowitzki
21. Boston Celtics – Royce White My man, my man. Royce White is the crème de la crème. I’ve missed Antoine Walker’s herky-jerky game since we dealt him for the second time to Miami (first time to the Mavericks for Jiri Welsch…. *puke*). I’m the first to admit that Antoine had his flaws and needed to come off the bench in a 6th man role, to either shoot you out of the game, or play some miraculous hero ball. Royce White is similar to Antoine, but he doesn’t have the habit to take stupid shots – like a hybrid of Antoine and Anthony Mason, all the good parts rolled into one player. I don’t care about his anxiety issues, they are non-issues. He is well spoken, thoughtful, honest, a team guy, and Fred Hoiberg is going to miss him BIG time. I’ll say it now, if we get White, we don’t need to bring back Bass. Depending on who you listen to, the Celtics have given White a promise at 21. Hustle Score: 22.85 Elite skills: Passing. NBA ceiling: A hard-nosed version of Antoine Walker
22. Boston Celtics – Jared Sullinger In my last mock, I had Sullinger at 7 to Golden State. He drops 15 places here to Boston, as I can’t see us letting him slide past us. Sullinger and White both play power forward, and this would definitely signal the end of Brandon Bass. Hustle Score: 24.39 Elite skills: rebounding. NBA ceiling: Kevin Love
23. Atlanta Hawks – Arnett Moultrie Another slider. Moultrie didn’t help himself out by not working out against centers – he could have shown off his quickness, rebounding ability and mid range jumper. Instead scouts are questioning him, when he should slot in at Pick 9 to the Pistons. Moultrie should eventually be able to emulate a lot of the things that average Joe Smith could do as a rookie. Hustle Score: 19.70 Elite skills: -. NBA ceiling: Joe Smith
24. Cleveland Cavaliers – Draymond Green is that hard working college star you want to succeed, no matter how under-sized and over-matched he is. Like Ed O’Bannon, Miles Simon, or my personal favorite, Marco Killingsworth. Green may carve out a career that spans 5 seasons, but the rest of his career should be spent overseas. That’s still a step up from used car salesman, O’Bannon. Hustle Score: 22.22 Elite skills: -. NBA ceiling: Jared Dudley
25. Memphis Grizzlies – Will Barton Will Barton is being slept on, well not literally, he’d probably snap in two if anything actually slept on him, but he’s an amazing mid-range scorer. I caught a couple of Memphis games this past season, and Barton impressed me with his basketball IQ and his timing. Mark this down right now. Will Barton is the next Kevin Martin – hyper efficient scorer. Look for the Celtics to trade for this pick and take Jared Cunningham or Will Barton. Hustle Score: 17.64 Elite skills: -. NBA ceiling: Kevin Martin
26. Indiana Pacers – Doron Lamb is a far cry from every Indiana fan’s fantasy, Eric Gordon, but Lamb is a solid if not spectacular. He is a solid rotation player who seems to be the guy that everyone forgot about on Kentucky. On most other teams, he would have been a 20ppg scorer. A good thing for Lamb is that he measured well in the combine, maybe he was wearing platforms embedded into his feet because I swore he was 6’2” all season long – maybe I need glasses. John Jenkins just misses out here. I think draft bloggers are sleeping on Lamb. Hustle Score: 10.15 Elite skills: 3 point shooting. NBA ceiling: JJ Redick
27. Miami Heat – Andrew Nicholson Nicholson seems to be everyone’s favorite hard work, low-ceiling player. Miami needs guys who can play, and Nicholson projects to be a poor man’s David West at best. He should make for a decent replacement, and can probably play spot minutes in the rotation straight away. Hustle Score: 22.84 Elite skills: -. NBA ceiling: David West
28. Oklahoma City Thunder – Jeff Taylor Many ‘experts’ claim the Thunder will pick Fournier and stash him away, however I see a glaring hole at small forward behind Durant. Dequan Cook does not have anything other than 3 point shooting, and should be a 12th man. Taylor is very athletic, plays excellent defense, and can hit open 3 pointers at a consistent clip. I have read many forum users claim Taylor to have lottery talent, this is true, but he is 23 years old and has a very low ceiling offensively. The Thunder had nobody to slow down LeBron James, and drafting a guy like Taylor who can compete right away is a good idea. Hustle Score: 15.25 Elite skills: Athleticism. NBA ceiling: Wilson Chandler
29. Chicago Bulls – Tony Wroten Jr. The Bulls need a dynamic player to give them minutes at point guard while Derrick Rose is out. Wroten is a real feast or famine player. Too many times last year he left me scratching my head at some of the stupid turnovers he made, or freezing out Terrence Ross. He has a lot of learning to do, Thibs is going to like his defense and intangibles from day 1, but Watson and Lucas should get the majority of minutes until he starts making better decisions. Wroten could be the best player taken in this draft, which is a scary prospect. Hustle Score: 20.79 Elite skills: Getting to the rim, passing. NBA ceiling: Tyreke Evans/ Rajon Rondo hybrid
30. Golden State Warriors – Quincy Miller Miller poses too much upside not to be drafted in the first round. Golden States gets a lottery type talent with the 30 pick. My problem with Miller is that I think he has about a 95% bust factor. Like Perry Jones III, he is soft. I watched a lot of Baylor games, and I thought Quincy Acy and Pierre Jackson were the team’s best players – that doesn’t say much for Jones and Miller. Hustle Score: 16.52 Elite skills: -. NBA ceiling: Kevin Durant playing with a migraine and a fever.
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