he 2012 NBA draft is only a few days away, and some of the top prospects coming out of college will soon find themselves new homes.
In my latest mock draft, I take a look at exactly where the top prospects in the game will land. Check back on Thursday morning as I will release my final mock draft the morning of the draft.
With that being said, let’s jump right into it.
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
The Hornets won the lottery and will strike gold with Davis. He’s a shot-blocking machine and also skilled offensively. He’s a franchise changer for the Hornets.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
Charlotte could trade the pick or go with Bradley Beal or Harrison Barnes here, but taking the athletic and relentless power forward who posted 27 double-doubles on the year at Kansas seems like a pretty safe pick.
3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal, Florida
Ernie Grunfeld’s trade to acquire Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor cleared the way for taking Beal with this pick. He’ll be the ideal complement to John Wall in the backcourt, and while the trade accomplished little for the Wizards’ future, Beal has the chance to be outstanding.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
The Cavs have loved Barnes for over a year now, and they have enough energy guys already, which should be the deciding factor between Barnes and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
What the Cavs need is a guy who can fill it up, and Barnes is that, as the 17.1 points per game he averaged on the season should translate nicely to the NBA.
5. Sacramento Kings: Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, Kentucky
The Kings need a big guy badly, but MKG is the perfect player for Kings coach Keith Smart.
They have enough scoring. MKG is a hard-playing, athletic, physical small forward who doesn’t have to score to make an impact. The Kings had the worst defense in the NBA a season ago, allowing an average of 104.4 points per game, and MKG should help improve that.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey Nets): Damian Lillard, Weber State
He adds the dynamic backcourt scorer (24.5 PPG) that the Blazers need and brings a sense of toughness to the team. He’s an outstanding shooter and has the ability to run an NBA offense.
The Blazers need a point guard, and I love Lillard here for them.
7. Golden State Warriors: Andre Drummond, Connecticut
The Warriors are in need of a small forward, but with the top ones not on the board any longer, they can add the big man they’ve been in search of for a long time.
Even though they acquired Andrew Bogut, Drummond has as much upside as anyone in the draft. It’s a roll of the dice, but it’s difficult to pass on someone with the physical package of Drummond.
8. Toronto Raptors: Dion Waiters, Syracuse
Waiters adds the ability to get to the rim from the guard position, which is something the Raptors need badly as right now there is nothing but jump shooters on their roster.
Toronto is a team that could trade out of this spot, but with Waiters’ stock rising in the fashion that it is, it’s hard to see him sliding past this spot. He’s tough and adds scoring.
9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson, North Carolina
Henson can rebound (10.1 RPG) and block shots (2.9 BPG), which are qualities the Pistons need in a frontcourt guy to pair with Greg Monroe.
He also will make Detroit much more athletic, which is a must with this pick. They can build around a Monroe-Henson frontcourt in the future, which will be nice building blocks.
10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Austin Rivers, Duke
The Hornets can go multiple ways with this pick, but Rivers also provides them with insurance in case restricted free agent Eric Gordon leaves.
In addition, Rivers provides the Hornets with perimeter scoring, long-range shooting and potential star power, all things the Hornets need badly. Adding Davis and Rivers will make this a very good draft for New Orleans.
The future looks bright in New Orleans
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Meyers Leonard, Illinois
He won’t be a star right away, but has a ton of overall talent. With Leonard, Portland gets size, athletic ability and a ton of upside.
Leonard had an outstanding combine, and his stock is way up and could fill the need in the middle for the Blazers. He’s a legitimate seven-footer who is a freak athlete and can be a true center in the league.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
He’s a guy that averaged 16.4 points and 10.5 rebounds on the season and is a big that can stretch the floor. He not only shot 54.9 percent from the floor on the season, but also 44.4 percent from behind the arc.
He’s big and strong enough to play the 4 or the 5, but athletic enough to run the floor like a guard.
Moultrie gives the Bucks the interior presence that they need badly.
13. Phoenix Suns: Perry Jones III, Baylor
Jones was a 4 in college but is likely a 3 in the NBA, and while he wowed scouts at the combine, he hasn’t been able to put together consistent individual workouts since.
He has all the tools in the world, but only averaged 13.5 points and 7.6 rebounds on the season, which is way below what his skill set would suggest.
He’s just too skilled to fall any further.
14. Houston Rockets: Terrence Ross, Washington
Ross can score from the inside or outside, averaging 16.4 points while shooting 37 percent from behind the arc. In addition, he can defend, handles the ball well and is one of the best rebounding guards in the draft, pulling down 6.4 boards per night.
Ross has great size for a 2-guard at 6’6” and can do anything on the floor very well. The Rockets need backcourt depth, and they get a real good player here. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if Ross finds a way to sneak into the top 10.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
They need a go-to-guy, and Lamb could be exactly that, as he averaged 17.7 points per game while at UConn. The Sixers desperately need someone that can fill it up from the perimeter, and Lamb could give Doug Collins a much-needed sniper.
Lamb is young, but has a ton of upside and could be a steal at No. 15 for the Sixers. He not only can extend his game beyond the arc—shooting 33.6 percent from three-point range—but has a devastating mid-range game.
16. Houston Rockets (via New York Knicks): Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
Zeller is athletic, can run the floor well and has very good leaping skills.
He’s also very good fundamentally and has a soft touch around the rim, shooting 55 percent from the floor during his senior season at North Carolina. Houston also needs a productive big man, and while he won’t become an All-Star, I do see Zeller being a productive NBA big.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
He’s outstanding decision-maker, averaging 9.8 assists per game and posting a 3.48 assist-to-turnover ratio, and down the road could bring some of the things to the Mavericks that Jason Kidd did.
Marshall is the best pure floor general in the draft and makes passing the rock look much easier than it really is. He also has the rare ability to make everyone around him better.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah Jazz): Moe Harkless, St. John’s
Minnesota might not get a shooter here, so taking the best available player isn’t the worst strategy.
Harkless impressed at the combine with his shooting and athleticism and has a very bright future ahead of him. His perimeter shooting will improve, but adding a high-character kid who can score and rebound isn’t the worst move here.
19. Orlando Magic: Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Jones is very athletic, strong and is a good finisher and rebounder in traffic. He’s also a guy that can score at all three levels, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 33 percent from behind the arc.
Orlando won’t get a Dwight Howard replacement (if it moves him) this low, so taking the best available player makes sense.
20. Denver Nuggets: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
No one in this draft may be more skilled and versatile on the offensive end than Nicholson. He’s also more athletic than he looks and will fit in nicely in George Karl’s up-tempo offense.
Nicholson has the ability to stretch the floor, averaging 18.5 points per game, shot 57 percent from the floor and 43 percent from behind the arc.
There’s not much on the floor that he doesn’t do well and could contribute immediately and add depth in Denver.
21. Boston Celtics: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Despite averaging 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds on the season, there were plenty of question marks surrounding Sullinger.
I wasn’t as high on him before the medical red flag, but that should certainly cause him to slide in the draft.
However, the rewards could outweigh the risks this low, and I do love Sullinger’s post-game. Boston could use a banger in the post, and Sullinger can do that.
22. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Royce White, Iowa State
White is a player that I think can come in and be a surprise from day one. He can score (13.4 PPG) and rebound (9.3 RPG), but while he stands 6’9”, White sees the floor like a guard. His 5.0 assists per game led Iowa State and actually ranked him fifth in the Big 12 Conference.
Down the road, White could be the eventual replacement for Paul Pierce.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Quincy Miller, Baylor
Miller isn’t close to being NBA-ready, but there’s no doubting his raw talent, and a couple years down the road, he could emerge as the Hawks top scoring option.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Fab Melo, Syracuse
Melo has nothing that resembles a post-game and has a very low basketball IQ. But he measured 7’0”, and while he’s raw offensively, he can contribute immediately as a shot-blocker (2.9 BPG) and has the size to be a good rebounder.
With the fact that the Cavs are in need of size, he’s worth a roll of the dice this late. Melo has potential, but has a long ways to go before he makes himself a quality NBA big man.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Wroten, Washington
Wroten has the raw skills to become the best guard in this draft, but first must find something that resembles a jump shot and learn to take care of the basketball.
The Grizzlies have the luxury of allowing him to develop for a while, but he could reward their patience down the road.
26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague, Kentucky
Teague will need time to develop, but he was impressive in March, as he really came on strong in helping lead Kentucky to the national championship.
The Pacers could look at Teague as their point guard of the future here and ultimately could lead to them shopping Darren Collison.
27. Miami Heat: Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt
The champs have the opportunity here to add another elite athlete.
Taylor is an outstanding perimeter defender and has range on his jumper, knocking down 42 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Draymond Green, Michigan State
Green does a little bit of everything and does it all very well. He makes his teammates better and will be a good asset coming off the bench in Oklahoma City, who are just really drafting for depth here.
29. Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
You can never have too much shooting. Jenkins could be the best pure shooter in the draft, knocking down 44 percent of his long-range attempts on the season. Jenkins has unlimited range, a lightning-quick release and could provide some secondary scoring in Chicago.
He will add some scoring in Chicago and could eventually turn into the replacement for Richard Hamilton.
30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio Spurs): Doron Lamb, Kentucky
The Warriors can add some additional shooting here with Lamb, and when he’s going well, he can be lethal, shooting 44 percent from behind the arc for the Wildcats on the season.
First Five Out
Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
Evan Fournier, France
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State
Will Barton, Memphis
Drew Gordon, New Mexico
Follow Matt Shetler on Twitter for news, reaction and analysis from around the NBA.
Follow Buckets Over Broadway on Twitter