NBA Mock Draft

Wednesday June 20th, 2012

2012 NBA Mock Draft 3.0
The draft is only eight days away, but the projections aren't getting any easier. The Bobcats still have executives all over the league wondering what they'll do at No. 2 and how their decision will affect the teams around them. Meanwhile, the annual cat-and-mouse game between agents and teams trying to line up workouts is as complicated as ever. Here's our latest look at the landscape, which has Bradley Beal moving into that second spot, Jared Sullinger tumbling out of the lottery and Miles Plumlee cracking the first round. (Note: Heights and weights are from the draft combine in Chicago earlier this month, with fractions rounded up. For the complete list of official measurements, click here.)

UPDATE: This mock draft was updated after the Wizards-Hornets trade on Wednesday.
Anthony Davis
The big fella continued his comedy tour during his visit to New Orleans on Tuesday, acting as if it was still uncertain whether the Hornets would take him with the top pick. But, yes, he's still here -- and not going anywhere until his name is called first on draft night.
Photo Gallery: Top picks in the lottery era
Bradley Beal
We'll know more after Friday, when Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson -- who held this spot in Mock 2.0 -- will work out against Connecticut center and fellow top 10 prospect Andre Drummond, according to sources. (Those two competed against each other for Cleveland on Wednesday.) But as I wrote recently, there's hardly a consensus on the draft's second-best player. That being said, I'm told that Beal is being more seriously considered here than before and could be the pick if Bobcats owner Michael Jordan isn't sufficiently impressed by Robinson's workout. The presence of incumbent shooting guard and leading scorer Gerald Henderson isn't expected to be a deterrent to taking Beal, either. Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes are also believed to be on the short list. There are some who think that Jordan is looking long and hard at his fellow Tar Heel Barnes, who is expected to work out for the Bobcats this week as well.
Thomas Robinson
The Wizards made a major move on Wednesday, acquiring small forward Trevor Ariza and center Emeka Okafor from New Orleans in exchange for small forward Rashard Lewis and a second-round pick. It's a win-now type of trade that could have a ripple effect on the draft. With Ariza now in town as a potential starter, the Wizards could pass up Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who was slotted here before the trade. Ariza, like Kidd-Gilchrist, is a very good defender, so the Wizards might opt for Robinson's two-way impact. I was told early in this process that the Wizards were big fans of the D.C. native, and he could wind up being the guy despite some duplication here as well. Washington drafted a forward last year in 22-year-old Jan Vesely, but he's a very different player from Robinson. He'd have to share time and touches with Okafor and center Nene, but it could work.
Harrison Barnes
North Carolina
The Cavs are still a moving target when it comes to assessing their pick, and the contingent that believes Beal would be taken over Barnes has grown. I'm sticking to what I was told early in the process: They're in love with Barnes. But as I said at the start, things can always change and the buzz around Beal has been extremely loud lately. Barnes worked out against Beal on Saturday, and sources confirmed reports that Beal was the perceived winner. But even if Beal were still available in this scenario, this isn't about a glorified one-on-one scrimmage between players who play different positions. And here's where it gets interesting: After Beal's agent, Mark Bartelstein, refused to have his client work out for teams below the top four and sent a clear message of confidence that his guy wouldn't fall past the Cavs, Barnes' agent, Jeffrey Wechsler, followed suit this week. Sources said he canceled a workout with Sacramento (No. 5) for later this week, although I'm told Barnes' camp will reassess that situation after he works out in Charlotte.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
The No. 5 team in the draft is having a hard time getting top five prospects to visit. The Kings haven't worked out Beal, Kidd-Gilchrist, Barnes or Robinson (or Davis, for obvious reasons). That doesn't mean those prospects won't come in before June 28 rolls around, but the Kings should feel good about their options nonetheless. All four players would provide yet another solid piece to their young core, but they'd be elated if Kidd-Gilchrist is available to fill what has been a musical-chairs position in recent years. The latest idea was to shift point guard Tyreke Evans to small forward this season, a move necessitated by the poor play of veteran swingman John Salmons. Francisco Garcia has started at times but is better served coming off the bench.

Weber State point guard Damian Lillard impressed in his workout in Sacramento, but the Kings aren't expected to pick a player like him just one year after adding Jimmer Fredette. Drummond could be a good fit eventually, but the Kings' win-now mentality is likely to preclude them from making that pick. Kentucky forward Terrence Jones played well in his Sacramento workout last week and has some fans within the organization, but I'm pretty sure Kidd-Gilchrist would get the nod here.
Andre Drummond
Lillard could be the pick because the Blazers need a point guard. But new general manager Neil Olshey knows the importance of quality young big men as much as anyone, having built his former Clippers team around the frontcourt of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The question, of course, is whether Olshey and the rest of the front office believe that Drummond can be an impact player sooner rather than later. Franchise centerpiece LaMarcus Aldridge has three seasons left on his deal, and it's safe to assume that everyone in Portland -- from owner Paul Allen on down -- wants to turn things around during that time. Drummond has major upside and great size and athleticism, but he continues to scare most executives as the draft's most unpredictable talent.
Dion Waiters
When Terrence Jones and Baylor forward Perry Jones faced off in a June 11 workout for Golden State, the Warriors were hoping that one of those two prospects would show an ability to play small forward and possibly become their pick as a result. But that didn't happen, and I'm told that Waiters has supplanted Terrence Jones (who was slotted seventh in Mock 2.0) on the team's wish list. Things remain fluid here (and almost everywhere else), but Waiters' ability to make an immediate impact offensively while also playing some point guard is appealing to a number of lottery teams. The Warriors have Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson as their backcourt of the future, meaning that Waiters could be a good fit in his college role as a high-octane sixth man. Golden State would love to move up and grab either Kidd-Gilchrist or Robinson, but they're unlikely to pull off such a tall order.
Austin Rivers
UConn shooting guard Jeremy Lamb remains in play, but he suffered a setback when he had to stop just minutes into a workout in Toronto last Thursday after turning his right ankle. Lamb canceled a subsequent workout in Portland, and it wasn't known as of late Tuesday night if he would be able to make his scheduled workout for Cleveland on Wednesday. (One involved source said late Tuesday afternoon that Lamb had not canceled). Meanwhile, Rivers' stock appears to be rising. While some view his swagger to be over the top, many front-office officials see his confidence as a major plus for the pros. Waiters and Lillard are in the mix for the Raptors, too.
Meyers Leonard
The Pistons have been looking at the possibility of pairing emerging center Greg Monroe with North Carolina shot-blocker John Henson, but Leonard could provide a combination of interior scoring and defensive presence that they covet. Leonard's shot-blocking numbers aren't as impressive as Henson's, but the Illinois 7-footer's size and athleticism are intriguing to Detroit and he's been on the rise leaguewide for quite a while now. North Carolina center Tyler Zeller, who held this spot in Mock 1.0 and 2.0, is still on the Pistons' short list. Mississippi State power forward Arnett Moultrie is also being considered.
Damian Lillard
Weber State
Though Lillard would appear to be the smart play, he hasn't worked out for New Orleans yet and I'm told he may not unless he's allowed to do an individual workout like he has in sessions with other teams. The Hornets would rather see him against competition, so it remains to be seen if this has an effect. And Portland, which was head over heels for Lillard after his workout there last Friday, would be more than happy to take him at No. 11 if he fell.
Kendall Marshall
North Carolina
Point guards Raymond Felton and Jonny Flynn and combo guard Jamal Crawford are about to become free agents, and the Blazers simply must find someone to run their team. If they don't select Lillard at No. 6 and he's gone before this pick, they may settle for the pass-first floor leader from North Carolina. Marshall ranked second in the country in assists (9.75) and led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.51 to 1). His value was evident after a broken right wrist kept him out of the Tar Heels' final two games in the NCAA tournament, an overtime victory against Ohio and a 13-point loss to Kansas.
Tyler Zeller
North Carolina
With Leonard rising up the ranks to Detroit, the Bucks get their replacement for departed center Andrew Bogut by taking the ACC Player of the Year. Zeller is as sound as the big men come in this deep crop, having averaged 16.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.
Jeremy Lamb
Whether it winds up being Lamb, Waiters, Rivers or Washington's Terrence Ross, it seems clear that the Suns would like to add an explosive, dynamic shooting guard with this pick. 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.
John Henson
North Carolina
My prediction for a Henson slide in Mock 2.0 (Minnesota at No. 18) was likely too extreme, and so we dial it back a bit by handing him to a Rockets team that needs big men badly. Center Marcus Camby will be a free agent, center Samuel Dalembert has one year left on his deal for $6.7 million (unless Houston decides to buy him out for $1.5 million) and 32-year-old starting power forward Luis Scola's production dipped this season. Henson is rail-thin (6-10½ with shoes and 216 pounds), but he's Anthony Davis lite as a defensive difference-maker and rebounder.
Terrence Jones
The Sixers don't have any big men locked up beyond next season except reserve rookie center Nikola Vucevic. 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.
Perry Jones
Jones would be great value at this pick. His talent is enormous, but the questions about his drive -- and his position -- persist. The Rockets are looking to use their two picks to move up as well, according to sources.
Jared Sullinger
Ohio State
The Sullinger slide stops here. The Ohio State forward has had a rough week: reported that he was "red-flagged" medically for back issues at the combine, and sources confirmed to that the situation is, in fact, a serious concern for some teams. Sullinger's agent, David Falk, downplayed the situation, but the prevailing view is that it will hurt his stock significantly. Nonetheless, the Mavericks grab him with hopes that Falk is right about his client and that they have a young, creative and productive power forward for years to come.
Terrence Ross
Whenever point guard sensation Ricky Rubio returns from his torn ACL, he could become even more potent with Ross at his side. Ross 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 Big East Rookie of the Year is another prospect who is generating a lot of buzz and climbing the board after helping himself at the combine. He averaged 15.3 points last season, but he shot just 44.5 percent overall and 20.2 percent from three-point range. His impact elsewhere entices front-office types who watched him average 8.6 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.6 steals.
Royce White
Iowa State
The Nuggets' pick changes for the third time in three mock drafts, from Washington point guard Tony Wroten to Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague and now to White. While there are indications that Wroten's stock is sliding, I'm told that the Nuggets are still legitimately interested in the latter two prospects. White is a rare talent, a point-forward type with some guard skills but a guy who can also play the role of scoring and rebounding big man. He's had to answer questions about an anxiety disorder that has led to a fear of flying. "It's not as much of a challenge as people think," White told reporters after his workout with Indiana recently. "But it's something I live with every day and have to be conscious of."
Andrew Nicholson
St. Bonaventure
The Celtics are desperate for big-man help and I'm told they're one of the many teams interested in Nicholson, who could wind up going higher. He can be a force both inside and outside, all of which would come in handy for a team set to have nine unrestricted free agents, include frontcourt starters Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass. Nicholson 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.
Fab Melo
Speaking of that Celtics desperation for help inside: Melo is a huge defensive presence who could find a significant reserve role in Boston.
Will Barton
Barton continues to do well in the predraft process, and I was told that he played well in Saturday's workout in Denver. He remains one of my sleepers, in large part because there aren't many players with the ability to affect games in so many ways. 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.
Arnett Moultrie
Mississippi State
Moultrie may not fall this far, but the Cavs would be thrilled to land anyone who could help replace free-agent forward Antawn Jamison's 17.2 points. 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.
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. Wroten could go here as well.
Miles Plumlee
After his standout performance at a group workout in Minnesota last month and a quality follow-up at the combine, Plumlee continues to shine. With his incredible athleticism (41-inch vertical leap in Minnesota and 40½ inches in Chicago) and legitimate size, Plumlee could turn into an intriguing backup for Roy Hibbert (assuming Indiana is able to sign the restricted free agent center). Plumlee worked out against Melo for the Pacers on Tuesday. Boston, Chicago, Minnesota, Memphis, Golden State, Cleveland and Atlanta are also considering the Duke big man.
Draymond Green
Michigan State
Miami needs players beyond its Big Three who can be versatile and provide some offense. Green, who performed well at the combine, would be a good addition in that regard. 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.
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.
Festus Ezeli
The Warriors' hopes of fortifying their frontcourt didn't end with the Bogut trade. Ezeli inconsistent but moves well for his size, is a good shot-blocker and has the ability to make an impact on both ends with a frame that is among the biggest in this bunch.

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