June 28th, 2012 | By love not hate
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky
We still feel pretty good about this pick. OK, we feel great about this pick. Davis becomes the new franchise centerpiece, then waits to see who’s joining him with New Orleans’ 10th pick.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
Robinson is considered more solid than sensational, and the Bobcats could go with him because they simply can’t afford to get this pick wrong. Sources said Charlotte is seriously considering North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes, too. But the smart money is on a trade. The Bobcats continue to talk with Cleveland about swapping No. 4 for No. 2, with Charlotte surely pushing for as many assets as possible to go with it (the Cavs have the 24th, 33rd and 34th picks). Houston (Nos. 12, 16 and 18) and Portland (Nos. 6 and 11) are trying to land the No. 2 pick as well, according to sources.
3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Full disclosure: This mock draft might already be off the rails. Though most executives see Charlotte’s taking Robinson if it keeps the pick, a source close to the Wizards said they are fielding an increased number of trade calls for their pick and that the most targeted prospect is the one who isn’t supposed to be here in this scenario: Robinson. And Washington is listening now, after sending the early message that it wanted to keep its pick. But that may not be an indication that Robinson will be around at No. 3 as much as it could be a reflection of the situation between the Bobcats and Cavaliers. If the Cavs acquire the second pick, they are expected to choose Beal, and Robinson would then be available. In the absence of that, the Wizards give former No. 1 pick John Wall a big-time backcourt mate if they make this selection.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
If the Cavs hold on to their pick, they could opt for the tough, defensive-minded wing player who is known as a coach’s dream. Kidd-Gilchrist’s jump shot needs work, but his motor, leadership and slashing ability are all part of what’s seen as a winning package. We’ll see if this latest buzz about Kidd-Gilchrist’s being in the lead here holds up, as it’s very different from what I was hearing at the beginning of this process, when Barnes was believed to be the target.
It’s also worth noting that Cleveland held a workout for Washington shooting guard Terrence Ross on Wednesday. Ross is expected to be a late-lottery or mid-first-round pick, so this could be a sign that Cleveland is considering moving back. Given Houston’s aggressive attempt to use its picks to get into the top 10 as part of its potential push for Dwight Howard, it makes you wonder if the Cavs might be considering swapping picks with the Rockets and possibly taking Ross in the teens.
5. Sacramento Kings: Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
With the obligatory “things can change” caveat attached, I’m told that the Kings are likely to keep their pick despite Houston’s well-chronicled attempts to acquire it. There should be an asterisk next to Barnes’ name here, though, because sources said the Kings are very interested in adding a big man to complement center DeMarcus Cousins. For now, I’m thinking they’d either take Barnes here or move back if they decide go big (possibly to No. 7, as they have had recent talks with Golden State about a swap). If it’s Barnes, that means the Kings got comfortable with the idea of him as their small forward of the future despite the fact that he refused to work out in Sacramento (as did Robinson, Kidd-Gilchrist and Beal).
If the Kings go big, one possible target is North Carolina power forward John Henson, a two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year. But Henson isn’t believed to be in play until Detroit’s No. 9 pick, so there could be a chance to obtain another asset if Sacramento traded down.
Weber State point guard Damian Lillard is an unlikely dark horse because of the team’s glut of guards. Also, I’ve been assured that it’s possible that the Kings would pass on Kidd-Gilchrist if he remained available.
6. Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State
Lillard would address a big need at point guard, where Raymond Felton had a disappointing year and is now a free agent. But several teams I spoke with are starting to believe that Duke’s Austin Rivers could be the guy here. His ability to play both guard positions is seen as a major plus.
7. Golden State Warriors: Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse
It’s no secret that the Warriors have some differences of opinion, with ownership said to be pushing for a big man and the front-office folks more inclined to add a wing player. But one of the known advocates for Waiters, consultant Jerry West, sure seemed to dispel the idea that Golden State will be taking UConn center Andre Drummond. During and after a local television appearance on Wednesday, West openly discussed the team’s need for a player who can contribute now, according to the San Jose Mercury News. That’s definitely not the raw Drummond, and that’s definitely a strong sign that owner Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers weren’t sufficiently impressed by the big man on Monday when they watched him work out in New York. Considering the always-fragile right ankle of point guard Stephen Curry and the inexperience of promising, soon-to-be second-year shooting guard Klay Thompson, Waiters would be a valuable fit here.
Barnes is a possibility as well. Golden State would also love to move up and grab Kidd-Gilchrist or Robinson, though that seems unlikely now.
8. Toronto Raptors: Austin Rivers, SG, Duke
The Raptors could use a point guard, but Lillard’s off the board and Rivers gives them someone who can play both positions while supplying much-needed scoring punch. Toronto made major strides defensively under Dwane Casey last season, but the focus is on offense now and Rivers can certainly provide that.
9. Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
The Pistons were pegged earlier to pick Henson, with the thinking being that they want a dominant defensive presence to pair with emerging center Greg Monroe. But with Drummond sliding, they opt for the big man whose ceiling is much higher than Henson’s.
10. New Orleans Hornets: Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
The Hornets are expected to re-sign restricted free agent shooting guard Eric Gordon, but a team that ranked 28th in points per possession would land another smooth, long and athletic scorer in Lamb.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
The Blazers are expected to go big if they take a guard at No. 6, and picking Leonard would surprise some considering North Carolina center Tyler Zeller is still available in this scenario. But new general manager Neil Olshey appreciates upside and athleticism as much as anyone (see center DeAndre Jordan with Olshey’s former team, the Clippers), and Leonard has that in spades.
12. Houston Rockets: Perry Jones, PF, Baylor
Jones is an intriguing player for the Rockets (should they actually keep this newly acquired pick). While talk is cheap at this point, it’s still worth noting that Jones seemed genuine and determined to be a high-level pro when I spent some time with him in Santa Barbara, Calif., last month. If he puts the work in, he could become quite a player with his unique blend of athleticism, size and skill. And there are reasons to wonder about his Baylor experience and whether that program was the best fit for him. Jones wants to play a significant amount of small forward in the NBA, and he has the ball-handling skills to do it. His ability to defend that position will be in doubt, though.
13. Phoenix Suns: Terrence Ross, SG, Washington
The Suns could wind up getting one of the best shooting guards here. Ross has phenomenal range, size and top-tier athleticism (37½-inch vertical jump). He averaged 16.4 points and shot 45.7 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range as a sophomore.
14. Milwaukee Bucks: Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
Even with Samuel Dalembert now in the fold after Wednesday’s trade with Houston, the Bucks still need a long-term replacement for departed center Andrew Bogut. Zeller, the ACC Player of the Year with averages of 16.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks as a senior, can fill that void.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky
The Sixers don’t have any big men locked up beyond next season except reserve center Nikola Vucevic, a rookie last season. Jones could evolve into a long-term frontcourt solution who could play power forward and possibly some small forward (opinions vary there). Jones is a good passer, defender and rebounder who averaged 12.3 points (on 50 percent shooting from the field and 32.7 percent on three-pointers), 7.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals last season for the national champion Wildcats.
16. Houston Rockets: Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State
These Rockets picks ring hollow because of all of their trade discussions, but Moultrie is a quality pickup nonetheless. Moultrie, who averaged 16.4 points (on 54.9 percent shooting) and 10.5 rebounds last season, told reporters at the combine that he expected to be taken anywhere from No. 7 to No. 17. Phoenix (No. 13) had him in for a second workout this week.
17. Dallas Mavericks: John Henson, PF, North Carolina
Based on reputation and the fact that teams as high as Sacramento (No. 5) are taking a long look at Henson, this is great value for the Mavericks. He’s no Tyson Chandler, but his shot-blocking could come in handy for a team that never recovered after its defensively dominant center signed with New York as a free agent last summer.
18. Houston Rockets: Moe Harkless, SF, St. John’s
The Rockets acquired this pick from Minnesota for small forward Chase Budinger on Tuesday. Harkless, the Big East Rookie of the Year, has been on the rise in recent weeks.
19. Orlando Magic: Royce White, SF, Iowa State
It would have seemed inconceivable just days ago that White would be taken before Ohio State power forward Jared Sullinger, but it is a possibility now. While Sullinger’s back and hamstring issues have been scaring teams away, White seems to have done a nice job of addressing concerns about him. He has been candid about his anxiety disorder, which sometimes causes a severe fear of flying, and many teams are now homing in on how effective he could be as a point-forward type.
What’s more, White pulled out of all of his workouts recently and is believed to have been given a promise. Sources with Denver (No. 20) and Boston (No. 21) said it wasn’t their team that promised to draft him, and a source close to the Hawks (No. 23) pointed out that Rick Sund (who is being replaced as general manager by Danny Ferry but who was still in charge when the alleged promise was issued) is known as the type of executive who never gives out promises. I have no knowledge that Orlando has done so, and it would have been tough to pull off considering GM Rob Hennigan was hired just one day before the alleged promise was given. Nonetheless, White would be a good fit in what is likely to become the post-Howard era.
20. Denver Nuggets: Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
The Nuggets have been intrigued by Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague, but they’d have to seriously consider Marshall if he dropped this far. With Andre Miller set to become a free agent on Sunday, Denver could land the pass-first point guard who would work well in coach George Karl’s selfless system.
21. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure
Nicholson may not fall this far, but he’d be a good get here. He can be a force both inside and outside, having averaged 18.5 points (while adding a three-point shot), 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in leading St. Bonaventure to the Atlantic 10 championship and its first NCAA tournament appearance in 12 years. Memphis shooting guard Will Barton is a strong possibility, too.
22. Boston Celtics: Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
The Celtics could benefit from Sullinger’s slide, and the potential reward would outweigh the risk at this point as Boston tries to upgrade its frontcourt. Sullinger was not one of the NBA’s 14 invites to the green room.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Will Barton, SG, Memphis
The Hawks like Barton, who not only can score but also fill up a box score. The Conference USA Player of the Year averaged 18 points (on 50.9 percent shooting from the field and 34.6 percent from three-point range), 8.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals last season.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
The Cavs could use a defensive-minded big man like Melo, whose size and presence in the paint will be NBA-ready on Day One.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky
Teague could be a phenomenal fit behind point guard Mike Conley. There’s clearly an appetite for help at the position considering the outside-the-box signing of Gilbert Arenas midway through the season. Washington point guard Tony Wroten could go here as well.
26. Indiana Pacers: Draymond Green, PF, Michigan State
It should surprise no one that the Pacers see value in Green’s game, as he’s just the sort of productive and unspectacular player that they’ve been homing in on in recent years. Green worked out for Indiana for a second time this week and is clearly high on Indiana’s list. He averaged 16.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists as a senior, including 17.7 points, 13.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists in three NCAA tournament games.
27. Miami Heat – Miles Plumlee, C, Duke
The Heat could always use another big man, and Plumlee certainly qualifies. Add in the athleticism and the untapped potential from being a role player at Duke, and Miami could stumble onto a nice player. Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli would also come in handy for the Heat.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jeff Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt
Taylor would give the Thunder another potential defensive stopper to go with shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha and get small forward Kevin Durant more backup help. He can score, too. Most of his offense came from attacking the rim in his first three seasons at Vanderbilt, but he started developing three-point range as a junior and made it a weapon as a senior when he shot 42.3 percent from beyond the arc while averaging 16.1 points.
29. Chicago Bulls: Evan Fournier, SG, Poitiers (France)
With point guard and 2010-11 MVP Derrick Rose sidelined after tearing his ACL in the playoffs, and with shooting guard Richard Hamilton showing his age (34) during an injury-filled season, the Bulls could use another scorer in their backcourt. There’s no way of telling just yet whether Fournier can be the penetrating, playmaking perimeter threat in the NBA that he has been while playing in France, but he’s worth gambling on here.
30. Golden State Warriors: Tony Wroten, PG, Washington
The talent is easily worth taking here, even with the red flags about Wroten’s decision making and lack of shooting range. He puts serious pressure on defenses and could be a potent option for coach Mark Jackson coming in behind Curry and Thompson.
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