Friday, June 01, 2012

2012 NBA Mock Draft Version Alpha: Just The Tip

The NBA lottery has come and gone, and the Cavs were robbed of the second piece of a future championship club by winning a coin toss.  Even without Anthony Davis, though, Cleveland should be in a great position to improve, with four picks in the top 34 of a deep draft.  I compiled this mock using information from Draft Express,, ESPN's Chad Ford, and  The player comparisons come from Hickory-High's awesome Similarity Scores project.  I've listed the top five comps for each player in the lottery.  Since this is only Version Alpha, I've only included analysis of the lottery picks.  As draft night gets closer, I will dive in deeper.  Enjoy.

1. New Orleans Hornets-Anthony Davis, PF/C, Kentucky
Top comps:  Brandan Wright, Tyrus Thomas, Chris Bosh, Patrick Patterson, Ed Davis 
While the comps aren't all that flattering (except for Chris Bosh, but I don't think anyone in the world thinks Davis is going to play a similar role as Bosh), there is no doubt that Davis is the pick here.  While scoring will still be tricky for the Hornets (28th in offensive efficiency), the defensive-minded Monty Williams has to be salivating at the prospect of scheming around one of the greatest defensive players in NCAA history.  The offense will eventually come for Davis, too, as he embraces the freedom the pro game will give him to utilize the guard skills he had been developing throughout his entire life before his late growth spurt.     

2. Charlotte Bobcats-Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
Top comps: Tristan Thompson, Josh Boone, Robin Lopez, Derrick Favors, Chris Wilcox
Drummond screams bust to me, but perhaps I'm just biased by the career of the last UConn center to be picked #2, Hasheem Thabeet.  Drummond is one of the more impressive physical specimens to enter the league in the past decade or so, but his underwhelming production for the Huskies (10.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.7 bpg, 53.8% FG%, 29.5% FT%) is cause for concern.  By all accounts he's a nice kid, and that may be the problem.  Draft Express has his ceiling listed as Andrew Bynum and his floor as Kwame Brown, which would make Drummond a fitting match for the man who drafted Brown.

3. Washington Wizards-Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Top comps: Shannon Brown, Antoine Wright, Gordon Hayward, Xavier Henry, Malcolm Lee
While it would be exciting to see Michael Kidd-Gilchrist running the floor with John Wall, the Wizards drafted a similar player to MKG last season in Chris Singleton.  Beal gives the Wiz one of the best young backcourts in the NBA, and would be an immediate improvement by simply not being Maurice Evans or Morris Almond.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers-Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
Top comps: Drew Gooden, Charlie Villanueva, Trey Tompkins, Jared Jeffries, Nick Collison
While the Cavs are desperate for wing help (the current starters at the 2 and 3 would be Alonzo Gee and Omri Casspi or Luke Walton, and that's assuming Gee re-signs), Robinson has enough potential as a devastating pick-and-roll partner for Kyrie Irving to move ahead of MKG and Harrison Barnes.  Tristan Thompson's development may be hindered as he moves to the bench, but at this point it must be assumed Anderson Varejao will go down with an injury at some point and minutes will free up.  Robinson should provide most of the scoring that will be lost with Antawn Jamison's departure, but hopefully it will come more efficiently and accompanied with passable defense and tenacious rebounding.  Robinson's relentless motor will hopefully provide an intangible boost, as well, and his hustle alone will probably lead to 2-3 baskets that wouldn't otherwise be scored per game.  

5. Sacramento Kings-Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
Top comps: Luol Deng, Lance Stephenson, Rudy Gay, Devin Ebanks, Tobias Harris
Kidd-Gilchrist's legendary leadership skills will be put to the test by this collection of knuckleheads. If he can bring this group together into a cohesive unit, he would justify this lofty draft position, since I'm afraid his play on the court won't be able to.  MKG just doesn't score enough to be a top 5 pick, especially considering the position he plays.  The silver lining, of course, is that if he were to go to the Kings here, he wouldn't need to worry about scoring that much, not with Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, the Jimmer, and DeMarcus Cousins jacking up most of the shots.  

6. Portland Trailblazers (via Brooklyn)-Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
Top comps: Channing Frye, Solomon Alabai, LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden, Al Horford
Zeller definitely has the best comps of any player covered so far, including the last two highly draft Portland big men.  Let's hope Zeller's career takes the path of the former instead of the latter.  Zeller would become the Blazers' best center since Arvydas Sabonis, and his game is a nice compliment to Aldridge's.  

7. Golden State Warriors-Perry Jones III, F, Baylor
Top comps: Luol Deng, Wilson Chandler, Tobias Harris, DeMar DeRozan,  Trey Tompkins
This pick would be a lock if Don Nelson were still in the Bay Area (following the long line of near-seven-footers with great handle Nelson tried to use to revolutionize the concept of "positions"), but even with Nellie deposed I think Jones is the pick here.  He apparently is the most gifted player in this draft, but I watched three Baylor games last season and honestly cannot remember Jones even touching the ball, let alone flashing any glimpses of dominance. 

8. Toronto Raptors-Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
Top comps: Tobias Harris, Gerald Henderson, Terrico White, Jordan Hamilton, Luol Deng
If there's one thing I've learned from these comps, it's that Tobias Harris is the Everyman small forward.  Barnes, meanwhile, is a tremendous spot-up shooter who does nearly literally nothing else.  He did just turn 20 the day of the lottery (Happy Birthday!), so it's not like he's a fully-formed product, but his lack of development between his freshman and sophomore seasons at Chapel Hill is not a good omen.  Considering what the Raptors had at the 3 last season (James Johnson! Linas Kleiza!), Barnes will be a huge improvement even if he doesn't add a single thing to his game.

9. Detroit Pistons-John Henson, PF, North Carolina
Top comps: Josh Boone, Ed Davis, Chris Wilcox, Jordan Williams, Jarvis Varnado
Greg Monroe is a uniquely gifted offensive big man who struggles mightily protecting the rim.  John Henson is a rebounding, shot-blocking fiend whose ability to hit a 15-foot jumper makes him a splendid complement to Monroe.  Along with Tayshaun Prince, the Pistons' new big man-combo would give Detroit the longest frontcourt in the league.

10. New Orleans (via Minnesota through LA Clippers)-Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State
Top comps: Stephen Curry, George Hill, Quincy Douby, Troy Bell, Charles Jenkins
Getting the next Steph Curry and Anthony Davis would make this one of the most successful drafts ever, and even getting the next George Hill and Davis would be quite a coup.  Getting the next Douby, Bell, or Jenkins, however, would be a disaster, but Lillard's eye-popping junior year (24.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.0 apg) hint at something closer to a boom than a bust. 
11. Portland Trailblazers-Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
Top comps: Marcus Williams, Deron Williams, Raymond Felton, Jrue Holliday, Jordan Farmar
While not nearly the scorer Lillard is (8.1 ppg), Marshall is one of the better distributors to come out of college in some time (9.8 apg, although it is easy to wrack up assists when you're passing to three top 10 draft picks).  Without knowing exactly who is going to be the coach in Portland and how fast or slow the Blazers will play, it is hard to say how well Marshall will fit.  If the Blazers remain the grinding plodders they've been under Nate McMillian, Marshall's effectiveness may be dulled.  Still, Raymond Felton is a free agent (and coming off a horrific season), Nolan Smith is apparently terrible (7.82 PER), and Elliot Williams cannot stay on the court, so Marshall may be the pick out of necessity.  It also wouldn't surprise me if the Blazers packaged their two lottery picks in an attempt to move up (most likely with Charlotte).
12. Milwaukee Bucks-Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
Top comps: Taj Gibson, Marcus Haislip, Darrell Arthur, Chris Bosh, Spencer Hawes
Compared to other mock drafts, this is a reach, especially with Jared Sullinger, Jeremy Lamb, and Terrence Jones still on the board.  The Andrew Bogut trade left the Bucks with no center on their roster, though, and Leonard is the only one left with the potential to be anything more than a defensive presence.  Still raw and underperforming (given his tremendous 7-foot frame and ability to get up-and-down the floor), Leonard has the capacity to become a solid scoring threat from the post while also becoming a difference maker in the defensive paint.
13. Phoenix Suns-Austin Rivers, SG, Duke
Top comps: Terrico White, Malcolm Lee, Shannon Brown, Maurice Auger, Shelvin Mack
Yes, Jeremy Lamb is universally considered a superior prospect, but with Steve Nash's departure imminent, the Suns need a ballhandler, not a spot-up specialist.  Rivers has the feel of a ball-dominator in the mold of Kobe Bryant (with obviously less size and power but also with a greater knack for setting up teammates and a better handle), and his potential to become an elite scorer will be intriguing to a franchise looking for a new face.  Defensively, Rivers will probably be dominated by opposing two's and blown-by by opposing one's, but the Suns haven't let matador defense deter them from employing players before, so I don't know why it would matter now. 
14. Houston Rockets-Jared Sullinger, PF/C, Ohio State
Top comps: Damion James, Wayne Simien, Shelden Williams, Drew Gooden, Kevin Love 
This could be the steal of the draft, especially after Kevin McHale's and Luis Scola's (assuming he isn't traded) tutelage expand Sullinger's already burgeoning arsenal of post moves.  Sullinger will be destroyed in pick-and-rolls, but the Rockets can live with that if he can snag 10 rebounds and pour in 15-18 points every night.  Away from the basket, Sully appeared to be developing a Dirk-like perimeter post game in his last few games at Ohio State, although how effective that tactic is 4 inches closer to earth is debatable.  Sullinger also can't jump, but neither can most of the Spurs, and things seem to be working out for them.  Inside the top 8, Sullinger seems destined to disappoint.  At 15, on a roster that will limit his minutes (and thus exposure to fatigue and pick-and-rolls) and under a coach that can develop his strengths even further, he seems like an easy All-Rookie choice.   
15. Philadelphia 76ers-Arnett Moultrie, PF/C, Mississippi State
16. Houston Rockets (via New York)-Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse
17. Dallas Mavericks-Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah)-Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
19. Orlando Magic-Terrence Ross, SG/SF, Washington
20. Denver Nuggets-Quincy Miller, SF, Baylor
21. Boston Celtics-Tony Wroten, Jr., G, Washington
22. Boston Celtics (via LA Clippers)-Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
23. Atlanta Hawks-Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via LA Lakers)-Moe Harkless, SF, St. John's
25. Memphis Grizzlies-Royce White, PF, Iowa State
26. Indiana Pacers-Andrew Nicholson, PF/C, St. Bonnaventure
27. Miami Heat-Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt
28. Oklahoma City Thunder-Evan Fournier, SG/SF, France
29. Chicago Bulls-Orlando Johnson, SG, UC Santa Barbara
30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio)-Tyshawn Taylor, PG, Kansas
31. Charlotte Bobcats-Jeff Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt
32. Washington Wizards-Draymond Green, PF, Michigan State
33. Cleveland Cavaliers (via New Orleans through Orlando)-John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt
34. Cleveland Cavaliers-Darius Miller, SF, Kentucky
35. Golden State Warriors (via Brooklyn)-Jae Crowder, F, Marquette
36. Sacramento Kings-Drew Gordon, PF, New Mexico
37. Toronto Raptors-Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky
38. Denver Nuggets (via Golden State)-Jared Cunningham, SG, Oregon State
39. Detroit Pistons-Will Barton, SG/SF, Memphis
40. Portland Trailblazers (via Minnesota)-Kevin Murphy, SG/SF, Tennessee Tech
41. Portland Trailblazers-Kevin Jones, PF, West Virginia
42. Milwaukee Bucks-Scott Machado, PG, Iona
43. Atlanta Hawks (via Phoenix)-Khris Middleton, SF, Texas A&M
44. Detroit Pistons (via Houston)-Tomas Satoranksy, SG, Czech Republic
45. Philadelphia 76ers-Kyle O'Quinn, PF/C, Norfolk State
46. Washington Wizards (via Dallas)-Furkan Aldemir, PF, Turkey
47. Utah Jazz-Marcus Denmon, SG, Missouri
48. New York Knicks-JaMychal Green, PF, Alabama
49. Orlando Magic-Henry Sims, C, Georgetown
50. Denver Nuggets-J'Covan Brown, PG, Texas
51. Boston Celtics-Hollis Thompson, SF, Georgetown
52. Golden State Warriors (via Atlanta)-Mike Scott, PF, Virginia
53. Los Angeles Clippers-William Buford, SG, Ohio State
54. Philadelphia 76ers (via Memphis)-Tu Holloway, PG, Xavier
55. Dallas Mavericks (via LA Lakers)-Kostas Papanikolaou, SF, Greece
56. Toronto Raptors (via Indiana)-Tornike Shengelia, F, Georgia
57. Brooklyn Nets (from Miami)-Kris Joseph, SF, Syracuse
58. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Oklahoma City)-Darius Johnson-Odom, SG, Marquette
59. San Antonio Spurs-Nihad Djedovic, SG/SF, Spain
60. Los Angeles Lakers (via Chicago)-Ognjen Kuzmic, C, Spain
This rotation does not include any unsigned Cleveland free agents (Alonzo Gee, namely), nor does it take into account any trades or free agent acquisitions (Omer Asik, I hope).
PG Kyrie Irving
SG John Jenkins
SF Moe Harkless
PF Thomas Robinson
C Anderson Varejao
F/C Tristan Thompson
G Boobie Gibson*
F Darius Miller
*Gibson has a $4.8 million team option for next season
This would have to be one of the younger rosters in the league.  Without the addition of a true center, the Cavs would be vulnerable in the middle, and Jenkins and Harkless may get torched early on by opposing wings (although Harkless has the athleticism and size to be a very effective defender).  If Gee were to be re-signed, it would not surprise me to see him get the the starting nod over Harkless.


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