The 2012 NBA Draft is all about that one dreaded word: potential. Beyond Anthony Davis, there are no sure-fire All-Stars out there. Sure, a few guys could develop and work their way up, but we’re a long ways away from that. General Managers are in the unenviable position of picking the one player that could either make or break their careers. Do you pick Kevin Durant or Greg Oden? Fans always know what their team needs. Unfortunately, the NBA Draft is all about what a player could be or how his current skills compare to others players in the league. Common sense is, “we need a point guard, so we’ll draft a point guard.” Rarely do things play out this way. I expect numerous trades and movement from teams on draft night, so my mock below will probably be blown to shit by the second pick. This mock is based on the current order, basic team needs and simple common basketball knowledge. No one knows what will happen beyond New Orleans’ first pick. And that’s half the fun of watching.
1. New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky
Pretty much a no-brainer. Davis needs to put on some muscle, but he’ll make an immediate impact for a shitty team.
2. Charlotte Bobcats – Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
Rumors are that Charlotte will trade down to acquire more talent. And they need it at basically every position besides point guard. I would love to slot Andre Drummond in here simply for the bust possibility and the Jordan-Kwame Brown comparison. Thomas Robinson is a solid forward with a great personal story who knows how to handle adversity. Perfect for the worst team in the league.
3. Washington Wizards – Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Why is Beal so hyped? I have no recollection of this dude playing at Florida. Good for Brad, but seriously, Eric Gordon is your best comp? And you’re going top-5? This is why the NBA Draft sucks. Fun “What If”: Cleveland trades up, steals Beal, Washington says “fuck it” and gambles on Drummond where he can be mentored by Emeka Okafor (another UCONN guy) and Nene. Completely stole this from Chad Ford.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, Kentucky
Kyrie Irving was a good start last year, now they need to build with more talent. Kidd-Gilchrist was the catalyst for the Wildcats’ championship run and will add to the rebuilding process. He still won’t make up for Lebron abandoning his home state.
5. Sacramento Kings – Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
Barnes will probably be a better pro than college player. He has the size, skill and potential, but does he care more about his “brand” than becoming a better player? Sacramento, with head cases Cousins, Evans and Fredette, will fit him perfectly.
6. Portland Trail Blazers – Damien Lillard, PG, Weber St.
Who? Supposedly the best point guard in the draft, Lillard will try to be a good point guard in Portland. I got nothing.
7. Golden St. Warriors – Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
Slip sliding. At what point does potential out-weigh common sense? Drummond is a physical freak with all the tools to be a beast on the court. He could be Dwight Howard or Kwame Brown. I watched Drummond for a season at UCONN and he was a huge disappointment. He doesn’t assert himself, he’s not aggressive in the paint, and is totally raw offensively. In the NBA, all he needs to do is rebound and dunk, which he can do–double-double every game. But does he want to? It feels like he only balls because of his size and not because of his passion. If he goes to Golden St. or a team that doesn’t know how to utilize him, he’ll flounder on the bench and only have a couple “Holy Shit!” dunk highlights in his rookie season.
8. Toronto Raptors – Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
Lamb is another guy that lets the game come to him. He’s much better off playing the sidekick than the star. Again, huge potential, but it comes down the right situation and his drive to get better. I think the Toronto experiment hasn’t really worked out, so it would be a shame for Lamb’s talent to be wasted in Canada.
9. Detroit Pistons – John Henson, PF, North Carolina
Another big, athletic forward. Just what the Pistons need!
10. New Orleans Hornets – Austin Rivers, PG, Duke
If the Hornets land Davis and Rivers, they’ll win the draft and set themselves up for a bright future. They’re in a tough division, but with Eric Gordon coming back, New Orleans becomes an exciting, young team.
11. Portland Trail Blazers – Tyler Zeller, PF, North Carolina
Portland is still trying to recover from the Greg Oden bust and Brandon Roy retirement. With two picks in the lottery, they might trade out, or try to set themselves up similar to the Hornets, mixing big and small.
12. Milwaukee Bucks – Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
A big white dude from the Midwest. Perfect for Milwaukee in their attempt to replace Andrew Bogut.
13. Phoenix Suns – Dion Waiters, SF, Syracuse
There are rumors of a promise to Waiters here at thirteen but even stranger rumors of teams pulling the trigger even earlier on the Syracuse sixth man. He could be a great roll player on a good team, or an obnoxious ball hog on a cellar dweller.
14. Houston Rockets – Perry Jones, PF/C, Baylor
Two years ago, Jones was a top-3 prospect. Last year he was still top-5. Now he’s fallen to possibly out of the lottery. At fourteen, Houston should go for the best available and he could really blossom with the right coaching and weight room. Look for teams to trade up into this spot too, as Houston is always a big mover and shaker on draft night.
Tune in Thursday night to see how things play out and laugh at how wrong I am.