NBA Mock Draft

Wednesday June 27th, 2012

2012 NBA Mock Draft 4.0
Just when you thought the clarity was coming, the draft waters became even murkier this week. Charlotte is still a moving target at No. 2. The Bobcats and nearly every other top 10 team are contemplating whether to answer those calls from Houston, which seems to be eternally active on the trade front. It remains to be seen whether the Rockets will be able to pull off their dream deal for Dwight Howard, but they've been successful in throwing a monkey wrench into these first-round projections because of the fluidity of their situation. It's possibilities galore. As for predictable picks? There aren't nearly enough.

UPDATE: This mock draft was updated late Wednesday afternoon after Houston agreed to trade center Sam Dalembert and the No. 14 pick to Milwaukee for the No. 12 pick and three players.
Anthony Davis
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.
Photo Gallery: Top picks in the lottery era
Thomas Robinson
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.
Bradley Beal
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.
Michael-Kidd Gilchrist
I've had Barnes here to this point, but the signs are conflicting enough that I'm switching to Kidd-Gilchrist. 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 arranged a private workout for Washington shooting guard Terrence Ross for 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 Howard, it makes you wonder if the Cavs might be considering swapping picks with the Rockets and possibly taking Ross in the teens.
Harrison Barnes
North Carolina
Sources said the Kings aren't as content as I'd previously thought about the idea of grabbing whichever player falls between Kidd-Gilchrist and Barnes (assuming Beal is gone and Robinson, with whom they'd likely be thrilled, is off the board as well). As discussed back in Mock 2.0, I'm now hearing once again that they may go big in an attempt to find a complement for young center DeMarcus Cousins. I still put Barnes here because he's the value pick who could be dealt to another team as part of a trade in which the Kings move back to select a big man. Sources said one of the possibilities is to swap picks with Golden State (No. 7) and pick up another asset. And, of course, Houston lurks as a possible partner in trading back.

As for which big man they'd opt for? That's not clear yet, though I'm told it wouldn't be Connecticut center Andre Drummond. Some of the candidates include North Carolina power forward John Henson, Kentucky power forward Terrence Jones, and, depending on how far back they went, Mississippi State power forward Arnett Moultrie. St. John's small forward Moe Harkless, who is expected to go in the mid-to-late first round, had a surprise workout in Sacramento on Monday.
Damian Lillard
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.
Andre Drummond
Sources confirmed a Comcast SportsNet Bay Area report that owner Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers traveled to New York on Monday to watch Drummond work out. The Golden State officials also saw a Barnes workout, a surprise considering he previously had worked out for only the top four teams (aside from New Orleans, of course). But a source close to Barnes insisted that the point of the trip was for Lacob and Myers to see Drummond. It's believed that ownership is in favor of landing a big man, and Drummond offers the potential and upside that could pay dividends for years to come. But there's also a strong push for Syracuse shooting guard Dion Waiters, not to mention the fact that Barnes would be considered if he fell. Or, as I mentioned earlier, Golden State could opt to move up -- either to Sacramento's spot at No. 5 or elsewhere -- in an attempt to land either Kidd-Gilchrist or Robinson.
Dion Waiters
Waiters can supply the offensive firepower that the Raptors lacked last season, when they finished 29th in points per possession. He can play some point guard, making him a potential fit with shooting guard DeMar DeRozan and point guard Jose Calderon. I had Rivers here in Mock 3.0, and sources said he is still being considered along with UConn shooting guard Jeremy Lamb.
John Henson
North Carolina
You've heard this story before: The Pistons want a big man to pair with emerging center Greg Monroe, and thus grab the ace shot-blocker and two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year from North Carolina. Illinois center Meyers Leonard, North Carolina center Tyler Zeller and Moultrie have all been considered.
Austin Rivers
The Hornets need a point guard in the worst way, but I simply don't see them passing on the chance to pair Davis with Rivers for someone like North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall. New Orleans is known to be very fond of Rivers, who grew up around New Orleans coach Monty Williams, a good friend of Austin's father, Celtics coach Doc Rivers. The younger Rivers, as noted earlier, can play both guard positions, and he has some executives wondering if he may be a star.
Tyler Zeller
North Carolina
The conventional wisdom about the Blazers (if they keep this selection and No. 6) is that they'll be seeking to draft one guard and one big man. Zeller was the ACC Player of the Year, having averaged 16.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Leonard could be under consideration, too. Though new general manager Neil Olshey has said he anticipates using both first-rounders, one executive said the Blazers are looking for "a major star" for their picks but was unsure whom they were targeting.
Zach Lowe: Zeller talks draft prep, fashion and more
Perry Jones
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.
Jeremy Lamb
Whether it's Lamb, Waiters, Rivers or Ross, the Suns have options in adding a much-needed explosive, dynamic shooting guard. Lamb is a smooth scorer with good size (6-5¼ with shoes, 6-11 wingspan) and athleticism (38-inch vertical jump), though he needs to add some bulk.
Meyers Leonard
Milwaukee could go a number of ways. Even with Dalembert now in the fold, the Bucks still need a long-term replacement for departed center Andrew Bogut. The athletic and fast-improving Leonard has shot up most teams' boards in recent weeks, including consideration from Detroit at No. 9. Milwaukee is known to be high on Terrence Jones as well.
Terrence Jones
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.
Arnett Moultrie
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.
Terrence Ross
This seems to be the floor for Ross, whom I'm told could go as high as No. 10 to New Orleans. The Mavs would be tempted to grab Marshall to help fill a potential hole at point guard (depending on what happens in free agency), but Ross -- who was among the NBA's 14 invitees to the green room on draft night -- is too talented to pass up. He 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.
Moe Harkless
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.
Royce White
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.
Kendall Marshall
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.
Andrew Nicholson
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.
Jared Sullinger
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 invited to the draft, an indication that he is no longer expected to be a lottery pick.
Sam Amick: Sullinger's agent downplays health concerns
Will Barton
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.
Sam Amick: Barton among potential draft sleepers
Fab Melo
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.
Marquis Teague
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.
Draymond Green
Michigan State
It should surprise no one that the Pacers see value in Green's game, because he's just the sort of productive and unspectacular player whom they've been zeroing in on in recent years. Green, who worked out for Indiana for a second time this week, is clearly high on the Pacers' 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.
Miles Plumlee
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.
Jeff Taylor
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.
Evan Fournier
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.
Tony Wroten
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 Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
NEXT FIVE: Quincy Miller (Baylor, SF, Fr., 6-10, 218); Festus Ezeli (Vanderbilt, C, Sr., 7-0, 264); Doron Lamb (Kentucky, SG, So., 6-5, 199); John Jenkins (Vanderbilt, SG, Jr., 6-5, 212); Quincy Acy (Baylor, PF, Sr., 6-8, 223).

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