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2012 NBA Mock Draft

06.18.12 at 7:08 pm ET
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Will St. Bonaventure's Andrew Nicholson have his name called by the Celtics in the NBA draft? (AP)

This year’s draft appears to be both full of depth and as thin as top prospect Anthony Davis at the top. Davis is the one true franchise-changer, a player whom rational basketball observers like Bob Knight and John Thompson have compared to Bill Russell.

Comps to Kevin Garnett at the high end and Marcus Camby at the low are also not out of place and if your worst-case scenario is a 15-year career at center, then you’re more than worthy of the top pick.

After Davis there is no clear-cut second choice, which makes predicting the rest of the draft an ever-changing exercise. Kansas’ Thomas Robinson is a man inside but lacks polish. Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will make any team better, but his offensive ceiling, particularly his shaky jump shot, may be limited.

Florida’s Bradley Beal is a smooth 6-foot-4 scoring guard with all the athleticism and intangibles you could want, but he’s also just 18 years old and has a lot to learn. North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes is coming on strong. And there’s still the draft’s biggest enigma: UConn’s Andre Drummond.

There are players to be had up and down the draft, along with the usual collection of intriguing physical specimens who may go boom or bust. But there is depth in the middle and the end of the first round, and the Celtics should be able to land two solid prospects with their selections in the latter third.

Let’s mock:

1. Hornets: Anthony Davis, C, Kentucky

The obvious choice, and with Emeka Okafor already on the board, the Hornets can pair Davis with a bruising interior rebounder and defender to help alleviate concerns about his thin frame. The only question is whether Davis will be good, exceptional or transcendent.

2. Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas

The Bobcats are rumored to be shopping the pick, and Barnes’ name was floated last week, but if they stay here the choice seems to be between Robinson and Kidd-Gilchrist. Both are high-energy players who want to do the dirty work to win games. Robinson is three years older, bigger and carried an undermanned Kansas team to the national championship game. Neither player will make or break a franchise, but the Cats need all the help they can get, and size tends to win out when all else is considered.

3. Wizards: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky

No need to overthink this one. MKG is a winner who will rebound, play defense like crazy and work on his game. The Wizards need all of those things, and adding another serious competitor alongside John Wall is important. MKG’s offense is raw, but he’s good in transition and can get to the basket. He’s still just 18 years old, and if he can fix the mechanics in his shot, he could become a very good pro and possibly an All-Star in time.

4. Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, G, Florida

Just 18 years old, Beal is a smooth scorer with a natural shooting stroke. He made only 33 percent of his 3-pointers as a freshman, but he came on strong and played like a star in the NCAA tournament. He’s also a tremendous rebounder for a guard and carries high marks for his maturity, even for his age. A backcourt of Beal and Kyrie Irving could be tremendous.

5. Kings: Harrison Barnes, F, UNC

Barnes averaged 17.2 points per game for the Tar Heels, but there’s always a question of more. A heralded recruit, Barnes was the ACC’s top freshman in 2011, but some wondered why he wasn’t even better. He was an All-ACC pick as a sophomore, but some wondered why he didn’t dominate. Barnes is a talented shooter but not a great ball-handler who could be a very good starting forward but maybe not an All-Star. He was tested very highly at the combine, so perhaps there’s even more potential to unlock. Bottom line: He looks like a top-five pick, and the Kings would be thrilled to get him here.

6. Trail Blazers: Andre Drummond, C, UConn

The Blazers have two lottery picks thanks to their trade deadline swap of Gerald Wallace to the Nets. Wallace recently opted out of his contract, making him a free agent. Nice trade. Drummond is the biggest question mark in the draft, and for a team that has long labored in the shadow of a failed big man project, this is a dicey selection. Still, Drummond’s size and potential are too good to pass up. The rest of the first round hinges on this selection. If the Blazers take a point guard like Damian Lillard, Drummond could fall.

7. Warriors: Perry Jones, F, Baylor

This is the nightmare scenario for the Warriors, who would love to get Barnes and have a need at forward. This could be a battle between Baylor’s Jones — and athletic freak who tends to wander during games — and Kentucky’s Terrence Jones, who may be more ready but doesn’t possess as much upside, making Perry Jones a classic Golden State draft pick.

8. Raptors: Dion Waiters, G, Syracuse

Few players enjoyed a meteoric rise as Waiters, who blossomed from an undisciplined freshman into college basketball’s top sixth man on a deep Syracuse squad. Waiters has similarly shot up the draft boards and has emerged as a hot name late in the process. The Raptors need offense and they could go with UConn’s Jeremy Lamb here, but Waiters is too intriguing to pass up.

9. Pistons: John Henson, F, North Carolina

Henson is a complimentary frontcourt player, but the Pistons are well set with emerging center Greg Monroe as their meal ticket inside. What Lawrence Frank‘s crew needs are defensive-minded players and Henson fits the bill, although his thin frame could cause him to slide.

10. Hornets: Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State

This is the dream scenario for the Hornets, who would get the top big man and point guard in the draft. Lillard could go higher, and in a draft class short on point guards Lillard emerged from Ogden, Utah, to jump to the head of the class. A talented and efficient scorer with deep range on his jumper and an ability to get to the rim, Lillard wasn’t a pure point guard at Weber State, but then he was asked to score as much as anything. There are concerns about the level of competition he faced, but not his ability or his approach.

11. Trail Blazers: Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State

Sullinger’s rep took a hit during the Final Four when he was badly outplayed by Robinson. He’s a bull inside, but he may have trouble scoring over taller defenders in the NBA. Still, this is great value for the Blazers, who are looking to rebuild the entire franchise in the wake of last year’s disaster. They could go point guard here as well, with UNC’s Kendall Marshall the next-best prospect after Lillard.

12. Bucks: Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois

At 7 feet and a chiseled 250 pounds, Leonard looks the part and he’s also a good athlete who can rebound and block shots. His post game is very raw and his emergence as a late lottery pick is tied to his combine workout as much as his performance. Long story short, the Bucks need size.

13. Suns: Austin Rivers, G, Duke

There are few prospects as heavily scrutinized in this year’s class as Doc’s son. He’s a high-usage shooting guard in a point guard’s body and many felt he would have done well to stay in school for another year. His talent is also obvious and for a Suns team that is rebuilding on the fly he could give Phoenix an infusion of scoring.

14. Rockets: Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina

Zeller is less about potential than production. He averaged better than 16 points and nine rebounds on a loaded Tar Heel team, and while he may never be a star, he’d fit in nicely on a team that had to play Luis Scola at center at times.

15. 76ers: Jeremy Lamb, SG, UConn

Lamb is sometimes compared to current Rocket Kevin Martin, and if he’s anywhere near as productive in the NBA, this would be a nice get for whoever drafts him. Lamb is a shooter, pure and simple. He’s been projected to go as high as eighth, but if he falls down here he’d be a nice fit for the Sixers, who need another long-range threat.

16. Rockets: Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina

The Rockets don’t need a point guard, but they also don’t need two first-round picks, and this spot has potential trade written all over it. Marshall is a tremendous passer and leader, but the concern is whether he can score enough to be anything more than a backup. Still, Marshall is smart and savvy and can knock down stationary jump shots.

17. Mavericks: Terrence Jones, SF, Kentucky

With Marshall gone, the Mavs won’t reach for a point guard, and Jones offers the kind of long, versatile forward who could do well in the right system. Jones may be one of the biggest sleepers in the draft. The expectations are different for lottery picks, but here with the Mavs he’d be allowed to develop.

18. Timberwolves: Terrence Ross, SG, Washington

This would be a nice get for the Wolves, but Ross will have to slide a bit to get here. He’s a good shooter who can draw fouls and would be an upgrade over Wesley Johnson, whom GM David Kahn foolishly grabbed with the fourth pick two years ago.

19. Magic: Arnett Moultrie, C, Mississippi State

A big, offensive rebounding machine. He’s no Dwight Howard, obviously, but the Magic are in desperate need of size.

20. Nuggets: Moe Harkless, F, St. John’s

Harkless won’t wow with you with his offense, but he’s tough and versatile and willingly played out of position at center for the Red Storm last season. He’s still young and has time to develop, but as a tough defender with athletic ability, he’d be a nice piece on a veteran team that has enough scoring.

21. Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure

The draft sets up nicely for the Celtics, who need size, size and more size. At 6-foor-9 with a long wingspan, Nicholson is a scorer with range. He shot over 57 percent from the field and made over 43 percent of his 3-pointers while leading the Bonnies back to the NCAA tournament after a long absence. The Celtics love big men who can stretch the floor, and Nicholson is one of the better ones in the draft.

22. Celtics: Fab Melo, C Syracuse

A legit 7-footer, Melo made huge strides as a sophomore going from nine minutes a game as a freshman to 25 in his second season. He’s raw offensively, but he can block shots. If Kevin Garnett returns to Boston, Melo would have no better defensive tutor.

23. Hawks: Royce White, PF, Iowa State

One of the draft’s biggest enigmas, White has an anxiety disorder that includes a fear of flying, but he’s been honest and engaging on the topic. It certainly didn’t hamper him at Iowa State, where he averaged 13 points, 9.4 rebounds and five assists. White is a skilled passing big man and ball-handler, but he lacks a consistent outside shot and has been an indifferent defender. The talent is there, making him a nice value pick this late in the first round.

24. Cavaliers: Miles Plumlee, C, Duke

A reach? Perhaps, but the Cavs need size alongside Tristan Thompson. At worst, Plumlee would be a serviceable backup for Anderson Varejao.

25. Grizzlies: Evan Fournier, G/F, France

The top-rated international player, Fournier is better around the rim than he is on the perimeter. Fournier played a major role for his team, a rarity for 19-year-olds in Europe. The Grizzlies have uncertainty on the wing with Rudy Gay‘s name mentioned in trade rumors and O.J. Mayo, who is a restricted free agent.

26. Pacers: Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky

The Pacers have issues at the point, where Darren Collison regressed and George Hill is better used as a combo guard. Teague needs work, particularly on his shot, but he made big strides in his freshman season at Kentucky.

27. Heat: Draymond Green, F, Michigan State

What do you get for a team that has three established superstars in their prime? Role players, and Green is coming out of Tom Izzo‘s role-player factory. A tough-minded, experienced player who can rebound sounds like Pat Riley‘s kind of player.

28. Thunder: Quincy Miler, F, Baylor

In terms of talent, Miller would be rated higher, but an ACL injury and questions about his inconsistent performances have him here. The Thunder don’t need anything, but they do need to continue stockpiling talent as their younger players begin to outlive their rookie contracts.

29. Bulls: Jeff Taylor, F, Vanderbilt

Taylor took a major step as a senior, knocking down 42 percent of his 3-pointers for the Commodores. He’s a good athlete and a decent defender.

30. Warriors: Tony Wroten, G, Washington

A left-handed scoring guard who needs the ball, Wroten is something of a Tyreke Evans lite. With Steph Curry on board, he’d have to play off the ball, but the Warriors could use some size in their backcourt.

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