What better time to look at the loaded 2012 NBA Draft than right after the NBA All-Star break and right before the NCAA tournament? This was written under the assumption that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will not enter the NBA draft, like he said over the weekend. NBA order based on records at the All-Star break.
1. Charlotte – Anthony Davis, F/C, Kentucky. Stone cold lock. Can’t imagine anything that could change this in the next four months.
2. Washington – Austin Rivers, G, Duke. Nobody has him this high, but I love his game. You let Nick Young walk, right? Enter Rivers, a talented kid with good pedigree and a nice jumper. Plus, if Wall never improves, build around Rivers, who I see as the next Russell Westbrook.
3. New Orleans – Thomas Robinson, F, Kansas. Total package. Carlos Boozer with more athleticism and toughness. Someone will inevitably say, “the Hornets already took a bum from Kansas – Julian Wright!”
4. New Jersey – Harrison Barnes, F, UNC. Difficult to peg the Nets, who could either lose Deron Williams or add Dwight Howard. I’ll operate under the assumption that D-Will goes to Dallas, and D12 doesn’t arrive in the Swamp.
5. Toronto – Andre Drummond, C, UConn. I’ve seen comparisons of Drummond to a more raw Dwight Howard. This is totally based on upside, because Drummond often looks clueless for the embattled Huskies.
6. Detroit – Cody Zeller, F, Indiana. Probably too high, but like Rivers, I’m enamored with Zeller’s game. But is he coming out? If not, Indiana is a serious Final 4 contender in 2013. Love his skill set, and paired with Greg Monroe, Detroit would have two very complete bigs.
7. Sacramento – Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State. The power forward the Kings haven’t had since C-Webb left the franchise. Also, a quality individual that you need to help straighten out Cousins.
8. Milwaukee – Brad Beal, G, Florida. Seems unlikely the freshman will fall this far, but if he does, Brandon Jennings may want to stick around Milwaukee. They’d make a fun backcourt.
9. Phoenix – Damian Lillard, Weber St. You say “Reach,” I say the “heir apparent to Steve Nash.” If you haven’t heard of Lillard, you will in the NCAA tourney when Weber St. upsets a higher ranked seed.
10. Cleveland – Jeremy Lamb, G, UConn. Best shooting guard the Cavs have had since … Ron Harper? Kyrie Irving and Lamb would make a dynamic backcourt.
11. Utah (via Golden State) Kendall Marshall, PG, UNC. Could take over for Devin Harris by midseason. (This pick is top 7 protected this year.)
12. Utah – Perry Jones, F, Baylor. You get two lottery picks, you can take a chance on one. Jones will probably go higher because of his “upside,” but this season, I’ve see very little of that upside.
13. Boston – Tyler Zeller, C, UNC. I’m a fan. Runs the floor well for a 7-footer, has nice offensive skills and if he gains 15 pounds, could be an 18-10 guy.
14. Houston (via New York) – John Henson, PF, UNC. Swung and missed with Gasol and (probably will with Dwight Howard), but they’ll finally get a capable (albeit offensively-challenged) big man.
15. New Orleans (via Minnesota) – Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky. Turnover-prone earlier this season and still just scratching the surface, but ultimately, he’ll be better than his brother Jeff (PG of the Hawks).
16. Denver – Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky. Skill set is there to go in the Top 10, but he’s been overshadowed by MKG and Davis. Seems to take a lot of plays off on both ends.
17. Portland – Tony Wroten, G, Washington. Athletic combo guard who may be their answer to Brandon Roy (without the jumper). Reminds me of DeMar DeRozan athletically.
18. Memphis – Terrence Ross, SF, Washington. With the Grizzlies paying Gay, Gasol & Randolph, they can’t afford to pay Allen and Mayo, so Ross is insurance for those guys. He might be better. In 2013.
19. NJ Nets (via Houston) – Dee Bost, PG, Mississippi St. They’ll need a PG when Deron Williams leaves, but the crop is weak this year. Bost could push Farmar for the starting job.
20. Atlanta – Arnett Moultrie, F, Mississippi St. Long, athletic and his lithe frame might remind you of Kevin Garnett. Offensive game needs major work, though.
21. Philadelphia – Draymond Green, F, Michigan St. He’s a Doug Collins kind of player.
22. LA Lakers – Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky. The Lakers need a 3-point threat. Lamb shot 48 percent from three last year. He’s shooting 48 percent from three again this year.
23. Boston (via LA Clippers) – Jeff Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt. The next Paul Pierce? Ok, he’s obviously not, but he’s a damn good shooter who should be a solid pro.
24. Orlando – Patric Young, F, Florida. Less than zero offensive game. If Dwight Howard does stick around, Young would be a nice power forward who inhales rebounds. The next Brandon Bass?
25. Indiana – Scott Machado, PG, Iona. Absurd, right? Except that Collison is the weakest link on the Pacers.
26. LA Lakers (via Dallas) – Tyshawn Taylor, PG, Kansas. The most important player on the Jayhawks has had an up-and-down career, but seems to be finishing strong.
27. San Antonio – Jeff Withey, C, Kansas. Last year at this time, had anyone even heard of Jeff Withey? Before Maui, did anyone even think he’d have NBA potential? I can see him flaming out very early or having a quiet 10-year career.
28. Chicago – William Buford, SG, Ohio State. How many shooting guards have the Bulls had in the last few years? Buford’s long, shoots the three well, and might finally be the answer.
29. Oklahoma City – Doug McDermott, F, Creighton. Midwestern game stays in the Midwest. Why couldn’t he have a Wally Szczerbiak-type 10-year NBA career?
30. Miami Heat – CJ Leslie, PF, NC State. Adds some offense to the second unit.