There are a million mock drafts out there. Some people put lots of work to produce credible mocks (Jonathan Givony, Chad Ford, Sam Amick). This isn’t one of those. My insight/research/reliability certainly won’t be better than theirs. Here, however, is my take on what should happen. So at each pick, I’m going to take over the war room of the respective team – because my insight/research/reliability is certainly better than theirs!
But first, I want your take. I set up a way for you to submit your mock draft to me. On Wednesday, I will post the consensus mock draft based solely on your choices.
OK, my GM cap is now on …
1. New Orleans Hornets
Kentucky PF Anthony Davis: The one no-brainer in this year’s draft.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (acquired from Charlotte)
Florida SG Bradley Beal: The Cavaliers are right in trading up for Beal. They’d have the best young backcourt in the league with Beal and reigning Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving. For a rebuilding team, that’s a huge step to have your starting backcourt solidified (on rookie contracts). Yeah, I know Kyrie wants Harrison Barnes, but as long as I’m wearing the GM cap, he’s the floor general and I’m the front-office general. You’ll thank me later, Kyrie. If I’m Cleveland, I’m sending No. 4, No. 34 and Daniel Gibson. If that doesn’t work, Nos. 4 and 24.
3. Washington Wizards
Kansas PF Thomas Robinson: Yes, I know the Wizards just solidified their frontline by trading for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to join with Nene. But Robinson still works on so many levels. First, he’s the best player on the board. Second, he’s great insurance since Okafor and Nene both have extensive injury histories. And Robinson may even outplay them. Third, he’s a D.C. native. If you’ve been to a Wizards game, you know they can use the PR boost. It’s OK that they don’t get Beal. I think Jordan Crawford is pretty good at scoring, which is what they’ll need at SG. He’ll do for now.
4. Charlotte Bobcats (Acquired from Cleveland)
North Carolina SF Harrison Barnes: There is much speculation about how the Bobcats are high on Barnes and considered taking him with the No. 2 pick. This way, they get a player they really like plus some sweetner from Cleveland. Even if the Wizards snatch up Barnes, that would leave Charlotte with Robinson, who was said by many to be the front-runner. It’s a win-win. Especially since I demanded the No. 24 pick)
5. Houston Rockets* (Acquired from Sacramento)
Connecticut center Andre Drummond: The Rockets don’t need two middle-round pieces, not with the likes of Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, Chandler Parsons and Chase Buddinger on the roster. What they desperately need is a big man. Houston also has some nice talent on the roster, so they don’t need Drummond to dominate right away. Samuel Dalembert is cool for now, especially at just $6.7 million. That allows for Drummond to develop, learn from Dalembert and Luis Scola, and be called on primarily to rebound, protect the rim and run the floor. If he turns out to be really good, he was well worth it. So Houston sends picks No. 14 and 16 to Sacramento, along with Kyle Lowry. The Kings have their starting point guard (sorry Isaiah Thomas) and two decent picks to fill out their roster. The Rockets get the big man and maybe even Jimmer Fredette, who now becomes unnecessary in a backcourt featuring Lowry, Thomas, Marcus Thornton and, of course, Tyreke Evans (and don’t forget about Terrence Williams).
6. Portland Trail Blazers
Weber State PG Damian Lillard: Since Portland also has the No. 11, no use messing around. The Blazers two biggest needs are a point guard and a big man. They can get the best point guard in the draft right here. They cannot get the best big man in the draft right here. So Lillard makes the most sense. I love Nicolas Batum, so I don’t feel so bad about passing up Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who is probably the best available player.
7. Golden State Warriors
Kentucky SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: Would rather get Andre Iguodala here, but that trade is practically impossible since it would require Philadelphia to take a bad contract (why would they?). So, MKG is easily the best player on the board. He spent the early part of the draft season as the consensus second-best player in the draft. Dropping to No. 7 should give him a chip on his shoulder, which is a good thing presumably. With four starters all but entrenched, the Warriors need a blender. MKG has the skills to be just about anything the Warriors need, a play-making starter, a facilitating starter, a pace-changing reserve, a threat to incumbents Dorell Wright and Brandon Rush. He probably won’t be a difference maker, propelling them to a 50-win team. But they won’t get better value in this draft. This is yet another lucky break for the Warriors.
8. Memphis Grizzlies (From Toronto)
Connecticut SG Jeremy Lamb: Since they’re losing Rudy Gay, the Raptors need offense badly. Lamb is probably the most talented offensive player in this draft. He may be able to play the SF with Memphis since Tony Allen can defend just about anybody and can take the tougher SF match-ups. Memphis gets some cap relief by getting rid of Gay’s salary and taking on Jose Calderon’s $10 million expiring contract. The Grizzlies also get young big Ed Davis and still have the No. 25 pick. This is probably the best offer they’ll get for Gay, who is due $53.7 million over the next three seasons. Toronto now adds Gay to Andrea Bargnani, DeMarr DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas (last year’s No. 5 overall pick from Lithuania who will debut with Raps this season). Signing Steve Nash could be enough to get them into the playoffs in the East.
9. Detroit Pistons
Illinois C Meyers Leonard: Leonard over North Carolina PF John Henson because the Pistons really want to move Greg Monroe to power forward, his more natural position. Leonard is big and athletic, more of a compliment to Monroe – who can now operate at the high post as well since a legit center is down low. Plus, Leonard has the foundation to build upon, key for a building franchise like Detroit.
10. Milwaukee Bucks (Acquired from New Orleans)
North Carolina PF John Henson: Since giving up Andrew Bogut, the Bucks desperately need some size. They like Henson (6-10, 216 pounds), who is skinny and limited but is an excellent rebounder and shot blocker who could develop into a nice player. He definitely fits with the pace they figure to have, led by Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. The Bucks would need to move up to get him. It probably won’t take too much to swap with New Orleans since it’s just two-slot move. A second-rounder should do.
11. Portland Trail Blazers
North Carolina C Tyler Zeller: Having already nabbed the PG they want, Portland can now go big. Zeller is highly skilled, legitimately big (7-foot, 247) and polished. He can play right away. Compliments LaMarcus Aldridge well because he can post or step out. Easy choice.
12. New Orleans Hornets (Acquired from Milwaukee)
North Carolina PG Kendall Marshall: In a shrewd move, the Hornets get a point guard in addition to another asset. Sure, they could get Austin Rivers here. But why when you already have Eric Gordon. Marshall is the true PG they need.
13. Phoenix Suns
Syracus SG Dion Waiters: This is good news for Phoenix. A high-value pick they almost didn’t get since Waiters stock climbed lately. Since they are likely to lose Steve Nash, Waiters is ideal because he figures to be able to play either guard spot. So the Suns can look to get another PG and play Waiters at SG. Or they can get a SG and play Waiters at PG. Either way, to walk away with one of the better talents in the draft this late in the lottery is pretty good.
14. Sacramento Kings (from Houston Rockets)
Duke SG Austin Rivers: The Kings’ backcourt is already deep, but Rivers is the best player available and pretty much a steal here. He’ll either challenge Marcus Thornton for the starting job eventually or be great offseason trade bait.
15. Philadelphia 76ers
Baylor PF Perry Jones III: The Sixers, who upset Derrick Rose-less Chicago in the first round of the playoffs, can afford to take a gamble, especially one with size. Philadelphia needs size and Jones is 6-11 with some skills. In Philadelphia, the pressure won’t be on him to produce big right away, which should allow him to build some confidence
16. Sacramento Kings (from Houston Rockets)
Kentucky PF Terrence Jones: With Jason Thompson and Chuck Hayes the bigs coming off the bench, Jones’ size and talent looks great at No. 16. He can play next to DeMarcus Cousins, who Smart likes to run at C. So for the 2012 draft, the Kings have added Kyle Lowry, Austin Rivers and Terrence Jones. Not bad at all.
17. Dallas Mavericks
Ohio State PF/C Jared Sullinger: Even with his back issues, this is a super value pick. Sullinger has top-5 talent. If his back is fine after all, he’ll have top-5 chip on his shoulder, too. The Mavericks have been looking to move up. Getting is Sullinger is almost like they actually did.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves
Washington SG Terrence Ross: They’ve tried Randy Foye. Martell Webster. Wesley Johnson. Minnesota constantly strikes out on wing players. The difference this time? They get a high-value pick late in the draft. So no pressure. Johnson has a nice stroke and some athleticism. He should fit well with Rickey Rubio.
19. Orlando Magic
St. John’s SF Moe Harkless: (Speaking with my Magic GM hat on) “We don’t know what we’re doing yet. The GM just got hired. Still no coach and the Dwight Howard situation is just as uncertain. Harkless is the choice because with his size and skill, and youth, he’d be a fit no matter which direction we go.”
20. Denver Nuggets
Mississippi State PF/C Arnett Moultrie: The Nuggets are deep and don’t have any great needs that can be filled at this slot. The Nuggets could try to get a back-up point guard, but this spot is too high for Tony Wroten Jr. Moultrie is a sleeper in the draft who will not only be a good back up but could be the next Kenneth Faried.
21. Boston Celtics
Iowa State SF Royce White: After falling a game short of the Finals, Boston is looking to re-stock. The Celtics can afford to take a risk, which White is because of his mental issues. And if anyone can bring the most out of White, it’s Doc Rivers. At 6-foot-8, with a 7-foot wingspan, White has the body of a power forward. But he’s got the skills of a small forward. That versatility and talent is exactly what Boston’s bench needs.
22. Boston Celtics
Baylor SF Quincy Miller: He’s young and underdeveloped. But the Celtics badly need an injection of talent and Miller has a lot of that. His combination of size (6-10, 219) and shooting could be a great weapon off the Boston bench. He’ll be able to run with Rajon Rondo but be a presence on defense, which is required for a Doc Rivers’ team.
23. Atlanta Hawks
Syracuse C Fab Melo: He’s the best center available, and it’s about time the Hawks stopped relying on ZaZa Pachulia. Melo is big, physical and defensive-minded. He’s not a factor on offense, but with Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Jeff Teague and Al Horford, there won’t be shots for him anyway.
24. Charlote Bobcats (from Cleveland Cavaliers)
St. Bonaventure PF/C Andrew Nicholson: With Harrison Barnes already in tow, Nicholson gives the Bobcats some size and skill. He is long, which helps him block shots and rebounds. He’s aggressive inside the paint but he has shooting range out to 3-point land. And, one of the few seniors, Nicholson is ready to play right away.
25. Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis SG Will Barton: He is a bonafide scorer and could become the playmaker the Grizzlies will need after losing Gay. He definitely will make losing O.J. Mayo more palatable. Plus, having played college ball locally, he could help sell some tickets. Barton can be a beast when he’s on. He can start as instant offense off the bench and could emerge as a future starter if he adds strength.
26. Indiana Pacers
Michigan State PF Draymond Green: The Pacers are set on the perimeter with George HIll, Paul George and Danny Granger. Green would not only provide a fourth G, but a versatile back-up to David West. He is a great PF in a small lineup and could make a good SF in a big lineup. Green’s ceiling isn’t high, and he won’t be a difference maker, but he’s a nice piece on a good team, which Indiana is.
27. Miami Heat
Vanderbilt C Festus Ezeli: The defending champs are still in desperate need of size. But not just any size, but someone who can do more than just be big. They already have one dimensional players in Joel Anthony and Rony Turiaf. Ezeli could be the answer. He’s legitimately big, he’s athletic, he works hard. Perhaps most important, he’s grounded – which will be needed in the limelight that comes with the Heat. Ezeli, who started playing late, also has some growth potential.
28. Golden State Warriors (from Oklahoma City)
Kentucky PG Marquis Teague: Since Oklahoma City wants to avoid a guaranteed contract, the Warriors gave up Nos. 35 and 52 to the Thunder in exchange for No. 28. That allows Golden State to get some depth behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson by drafting the young-but-talented Teague. The competition with Charles Jenkins, last year’s second-round coupe, should be intense. But Teague also has some value for a Warriors’ squad looking to make some moves during the free agency/trade season that starts July 1. Jeff Taylor could be good here, but Warriors GM Bob Myers said he wants to keep restricted free agent Brandon Rush, so Taylor would be redundant.
29. Chicago Bulls
Washington PG Tony Wroten Jr.: As far as talent goes, few have more than Wroten. The Bulls desperately need someone outside of Derrick Rose who can make a play. He’s not the outside shooter they need, but he can make offense happen for himself and others. He’s only 19 and he can also play shooting guard. Plus, the Bulls may not want to keep C.J. Watson, for whom they have a team option.
30. Golden State Warriors
Poitiers (France) SG/SF Evan Fournier: He’s 6-foot-7, 204 pounds, he’s got excellent ball-handling skills and a smoothness to his game. He could become another playmaker for the Warriors, who lack players who can create shots for others. The best part about Fournier is that the Warriors can stash him overseas. Fournier is younger and has more value than 6-8 combo guard Tomas Satoransky.