Last season, because the Wizards had two picks in the first round, I attempted the impossible and mocked the entire first round of the NBA Draft. This season, with only one first-rounder for Washington, I have gone with more standard mock of the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery.
Updated: June 24, 2012 @ 3:30pm
1. New Orleans — Anthony Davis ( 6’10 / 222 / Kentucky ) — Seeing as how this draft was more properly labeled “The Anthony Davis Sweepstakes”, there shouldn’t be any doubt about what direction the Hornets take with the first-overall pick. The team moved on from power forward David West and they’re prepared to part with Chris Kaman and Carl Landry. Anthony Davis is deserving of all the praise and he’s a cornerstone for the future of New Orleans basketball.
2. Charlotte – Thomas Robinson ( 6’9 / 244 / Kansas ) – Originally mocking Thomas Robinson at No. 7 after a slight slip down the board, word on the street seems to be that Bobcats owner Michael Jordan and his front office really like Robinson and that they will seriously consider him at No. 2. Although I’m a big fan of the hometown kid, I do believe that No. 2 is a little too high. And none of it surprises me with Jordan running the show.
3. Washington — Bradley Beal ( 6’4 / 202 / Florida ) — With the recent trade that sent Rashard Lewis to New Orleans in return for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, I believe the Wizards go with offense at the No. 3 spot. As much as I love Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Wiz could solidify their backcourt and place faith in Beal to be their go-to scorer for the next decade. When it’s all said and done, I think Bradley Beal will leave his mark on the 2012 draft class as being one of the better NBA professionals. Like the two picked before him, Beal has only seen one year of collegiate basketball, but his potential to grow from an already strong foundation makes him well worth the top-three selection. Beal has drawn comparisons to NBA great Ray Allen because of his shooting range and ability to fill it up, and my crazy ass has even claimed that his slashing potential is to that of Dwyane Wade.
4. Cleveland — Harrison Barnes ( 6’8 / 228 / North Carolina ) – There is a chance that the Cavs take part in some movin’ and shakin’ on Thursday, ultimately placing them in the No. 2 spot in fear of the Wizards taking “their guy”. Assuming that they stay put and the Wizards do in fact draft Beal, Cleveland is comfortable with taking Harrison Barnes at No. 4. To me, Barnes is a safe pick in the draft, but he hasn’t nearly lived up to the hype. My biggest concern with Barnes is his aggressiveness, or lack thereof. He doesn’t display the attack attitude that dominant NBA swingmen possess.
5. Sacramento – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ( 6’7 / 233 / Kentucky ) – As one of my favorite prospects in this class, it’s tough to see MKG slip — albeit a very slight fall to No. 5. MKG’s greatest attribute is his attitude and overall passion on the court. Although is jumpshot may not be on the level of Beal or Lamb, he is committed on defense and he’s a great team guy. With MKG on the wing, point guard Tyreke Evans should have no complaints.
6. Portland — Meyers Leonard ( 7’1 / 250 / Illinois ) — Perhaps the first surprise in the draft, Illinois center Meyers Leonard is quickly gaining steam as one of the intriguing prospects with too much potential to pass up. Portland expects LaMarcus Aldridge to make a full recovery and return next season as the team’s power forward. Leonard could then step in as the more natural center. His athleticism and ability to finish around the rim make him a very attractive target for a team looking to solidify and/or build around their frontcourt.
7. Golden State – Andre Drummond ( 6’11 / 279 / Connecticut ) – At this point, Drummond is very raw after spending just one season at UConn. But when you watch a man of Drummond’s size with his amount of athleticism, it’s hard to deny him when he falls into your lap at No. 7. The Warriors acquired Andrew Bogut last year in the Monta Ellis trade, but Bogut’s health is far from sure. Drummond could take some time to develop, but it’s not a bad bet. My biggest concerns with Drummond are his work ethic, motivation and ability to remain committed during game action.
8. Toronto — Austin Rivers ( 6’5 / 203 / Duke ) — The Raptors could go in a few directions at this point in the draft, but Austin Rivers is arguably the best player available and he could turn out to be much more than, say, Jeremy Lamb or Tyler Zeller. Rivers is a combo-guard prospect with an underrated first step that can leave defenders standing still at the three-point line. Rivers has above-average basketball intelligence (thanks to his pops) and his decision-making should improve with his maturity.
9. Detroit — Arnett Moultrie ( 6’11 / 233 / Miss. State ) — Despite very few flaws in his game, Arnett Moultrie doesn’t appear to be a household name. Naturally gifted as an athlete, Moultrie possesses the freakish versatility that makes GMs drool with excitement. Although Moultrie could likely play some center at the next level, his range as an inside-outside scoring threat make him a better fit at the four-spot. Alongside a young center in Greg Monroe, the Detroit Pistons could build around a very promising and athletic couple of skyscrapers.
10. New Orleans — Tyler Zeller ( 7’0 / 247 / North Carolina ) — As one of my favorite players in this draft, Tyler Zeller has the making of a true NBA center, while also possessing the versatility to play the power forward position. Zeller is a finisher around the rim and he runs the floor extremely well for a man his size. Although his play may not be the prettiest on the court, and his range may turn off some scouts, Tyler Zeller is a very safe pick in the 2012 Lottery.
11. Portland — Damian Lillard ( 6’3 / 189 / Weber State ) — Arguably the best point guard in this draft class, Damian Lillard is a mix of everything you look for in a floor general. Starring at Weber State didn’t gain Lillard the attention he deserved — or the attention that would put him on your television sets — but it was plenty enough to place him in the top 14 picks. Lillard is good with the ball in his hands, he’s an underrated passer when compared to other point guards coming out and he can spot-up lethal jumpers. It is noted, however, that Lillard is a score-first point guard. For teams looking for true point guards, Lillard isn’t your guy. In Portland — although possibly looking for a pass-first one-guard — the team is due to lose two point guards to free agency and they may opt to take the point guard that is pretty good at everything, rather than the one that’s great at a couple things.
12. Milwaukee — Jeremy Lamb ( 6’5 / 179 / Connecticut ) — I may not be a part of the Jeremy Lamb fan club, but I will admit that he’s growing on me a bit. As a natural scorer and jumpshooter, Lamb is ready for the next level. He’s athletic and long for the position and both of those attributes help him in other parts of his game (rebounding, defense). On the negative side, I can’t get over Lamb’s lack of pursuit to the basket. With the athleticism and finishing ability that Lamb has, he should attack the rim and create for himself much more than he does. I’m also not big on his speed or quickness, which I believe he lacks against other guards or wing players. At times, I thought Lamb appeared decommitted from game action and that’ll turn me off immediately. Not a hate fest on the guy — as I did mention that he’s growing on me — but I would really like to see him access all of his talent rather than just the shooting portion.
13. Phoenix — Terrence Ross ( 6’7 / 197 / Washington ) – With a few questions about his character and overall commitment during games, Terrence Ross slips a bit. Based off potential, size and leaping ability, Ross is a top-seven talent. He can also contribute on defense with his long frame and good anticipation. Ross can look like a ball-hog at times, but better surrounding talent and professional coaching should improve his decision-making. At this point, I think the Suns find themselves in a very good position to land a winger that could turn into their most versatile offensive threat.
14. Houston — Jared Sullinger ( 6’9 / 275 / Ohio State ) – Unlike most other prospects in this draft, teams know exactly what they’re getting with Jared Sullinger and his skill set. Some may not be huge fans of the old school block forward, but NBA teams take a liking. Sullinger is a blue-collar style player that will earn his paychecks off solid rebounding and effective scoring ability in the paint. He has a great feel around the basket and his body control plays a key role in his offensive execution and rebounding. Although not physically or athletically blessed like other big men, Sullinger carries his large frame extremely well and he’s not limited from getting up and down the court. In Houston, everyone loves Luis Scola. At 32 years young, Scola can’t play forever and fans should enjoy knowing that the Rockets’ next-in-line falls to them at No. 14.