Thursday, 7 June 2012

An NBA Mock Draft - Based On Team Needs

In the basketball blogging world, there are a handful of things absolutely everyone does, or wants to do. Among them are power rankings, season/playoff/trade/free agent predictions and, at this time of year - mock drafts.

Annoyingly, in most of these things you won't find much variety - that's why I've started moving away from the ESPNs and NBA.coms of the world, gravitating more toward places that I can find qualified information and qualified comment, sites like RealGM and the various SB Nation blogs.

Though it might not always show, I try to model this blog around that particular style - objectivity, research, making sure whatever I say has some sort of foundation. Every now and then I'll tap into a topic like Linsanity that might get me more clicks than my usual Suns-centric posts would, but if I do that, you'll notice it's never a rehash of the same argument somebody else has already made. This is an important skill in journalism, something I learned right near the start of my study, and something I try to abide by at all times.

So why is all of the above important? Because in doing this, a mock draft - especially at this time of year, I want to make a point of the fact that I'm not just taking Draft Express's rankings and changing the comments. This mock is based on two things - snippets of information I've picked up from RealGM and others sites (usually front office comments) and TEAM NEED. In order to make this mock different to all the others, I've decided to throw the "best player available" theory out the window - in a draft like this, with depth at most positions, I don't think it really applies. Without further ado, my 2012 NBA mock draft!

Hit the jump to see it!


1. New Orleans Hornets - Anthony Davis, Kentucky (PF)

Do I really need to explain this? The opinion on Davis seems to be that no matter which one of the 30 NBA teams won the lottery, Davis would be the #1 pick. Those kind of players don't come along very often (in the last 10 years - LeBron and Blake. That's it - the other drafts were at least a two-horse race).

I don't think Davis' impact at first will be as tremendous as people are expecting it to be, especially to a rebuilding team like the Hornets - to the point I won't be surprised if he fails to win Rookie of the Year next season. He WILL be a big-time difference maker at some point in his career though - of that, I have no doubt.

2. Charlotte Bobcats - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky (SF)

You know what sucks? One answer would be the Bobcats, yes, but that's not the answer I'm looking for. Tanking sucks. I find a certain kind of poetic justice in the fact that Charlotte miss out on the chance to bring in Davis. Make no mistake though, MKG is one helluva consolation prize.

Charlotte has young talent - with upside - at every position except SF. I'm sure the Bobcats would have preferred Harrison Barnes had a better college career to justify taking him #2, since the Bobcats really need scoring more than anything, but scorers are easy to find compared to MKG's skillset. He's the better player right now, and has the potential to round into a decent scorer anyway. It's not like Charlotte's in any hurry to miss out on the 2013 lottery, anyway.

3. Washington Wizards - Bradley Beal, Florida (SG)

This is where my refusal to consider BPA starts to really kick in - people could make an argument for a handful of guys to get picked here. So, save your emotion and remember that I'm not taking that into account. Once you've done that, picture this: John Wall and Beal in the same back court. Scary.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers - Harrison Barnes, North Carolina (SF)

There have been whispers that the Cavs intend to draft Barnes at #4 - you can read those here. The pick makes sense, since the Cavs lack both scoring and a starting SF, especially with the expected departures of Antawn Jamison and Alonzo Gee.

Barnes will have no shortage of opportunities in Cleveland, meaning he's one of my favourites for RotY and should have no trouble doing what he does best - putting the ball in the bucket.

5. Sacramento Kings - Thomas Robinson, Kansas (PF)

I'll be honest - I've never been a huge fan of T-Rob. There's something I don't trust about break-out guys in college. Was he always this good? If he was, then why didn't the Jayhawks play him at the 5 next to the Morris twins two seasons ago? Would he have been a starter if the Morris twins had seen out their college career? I'm not sure, and that's why I'm not sure about Robinson.

One thing I do know about Robinson though, is that by all accounts he's a hard worker, one of those high character guys that rub off on others. More than Robinson's playing ability, couldn't Sacramento use someone with their head screwed on? Or maybe the Kings corrupt T-Rob... (only slightly joking)

6. Portland Trailblazers - Andre Drummond, Connecticut (C)

Plenty has been said about Drummond and his underwhelming stint at UConn, so I'll refrain from repeating any more than I have to. One of the prevailing opinions is that Drummond didn't head off to college with the right attitude or mentality. If I were him, a 7'0 270lb man-child, I'd probably be the same - college would just be a pit-stop on the way to a certain pro career.

Put simply, Drummond has the potential to be every bit the player Greg Oden was supposed to be. The best analogy I heard for his ceiling was a mutant Howard - basically Dwight with a smooth touch around the rim. Given his apparent attitude problems, it's a shame the Blazers fired Nate McMillan, who would surely get everything out of Drummond. The players like new guy Canales though, so maybe he can achieve something similar.

Like Wall/Beal before them, an Aldridge/Drummond front court practically has me salivating - and I'm not even a Portland fan.

7. Golden State Warriors - Perry Jones, Baylor (SF/PF)

PG - Steph Curry? Check.
SG - Klay Thompson? Check.
SF - ?
PF - David Lee? Check.
C - Andrew Bogut? Check.

This pick is up there with the most likely to be traded - GSW are talking playoffs, so they hardly want to develop another rookie. Still, in the scenario that the Warriors keep the pick, I think taking a wing player is a no-brainer. Enter Perry Jones. The jury's out on whether Jones will actually be able to play SF in the NBA, and a lot of people are predicting another Anthony Randolph/Brandan Wright type bust here, but even if Jones fails to fill the void at SF, he addresses the team's second most pressing issue - front court depth.

Plus, Mark Jackson is supposed to be a good motivator.

8. Toronto Raptors - Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut (SG)

This hinges 100% on whether or not DeMar DeRozan can play SF. From Lamb's scouting report, two things stand out to me - he apparently possesses a very good jump shot, and shows good potential as a defender. I'd say those are the biggest two things lacking at SG for the Raptors at the moment. Add to that Lamb is an above average athlete and a good off-ball mover, and it becomes apparent the Raptors might not be missing much by moving DeRozan away from SG.

9. Detroit Pistons - Jared Sullinger, Ohio State (PF)

The Pistons could go in one of two directions here, and both revolve around the PF position. The toss-up is between Sullinger, a big, overpowering if undersized back-to-basket type of PF and John Henson, a lanky, athletic but raw shot blocking type of PF.

For me, as formidable as Henson's shot blocking abilities may be, not only is Sullinger's play style more NBA-ready (a polished offensive game vs a defensive game based on athleticism and instinct), his skillset is harder to find. There's an offensively challenged, athletic shot blocker on just about every roster in the league, but only a handful of true low post players.

10. New Orleans Hornets - Damian Lillard, Weber State (PG)

Players capable of scoring 20+ points consistently for NO - one (Eric Gordon). The Hornets need offense, badly. And unless they want to keep starting Jarrett Jack, they need a point guard as well. Fortunately for the Hornets, Lillard projects to address both of those needs - and given his shooting prowess, could even play off the ball while Jack or Gordon take their turn at creating (something of a weakness of Lillard's, according to some).

11. Portland Trailblazers - Kendall Marshall, North Carolina (PG)
So, you're the Portland Trailblazers and you have all these great pieces in place - an All Star PF in LaMarcus Aldridge, a potential All Star C in Andre Drummond, good spot up shooters and finishers on the wing in Nic Batum and Wes Matthews and Nolan Smith at PG to make it all come together.

Wait, that's not right. What the Blazers need is a floor general - someone who gets the ball to the right guys in the right place and makes the offense flow. Oh, what's that? Kendall Marshall does that? DRAFT HIM.

This pick, of all the lottery picks is the one that makes the most sense to me. You could do your mock draft any way you wanted, with whatever arbitrary qualifiers you might like to add and you should still have Marshall going to the Blazers at 11. If you don't, there's something wrong with your logic (probably having Lillard somewhere higher than 10 would be my guess).

12. Milwaukee Bucks - Tyler Zeller, North Carolina (C/PF)

Why didn't the Bucks just hold on to Bogut? They could have drafted any one of a handful of talented wings from this spot, without giving up a top 10, probably top 5 big man in the process. Still, what's done is done, and the Bucks, as a result of trading big for small, need more size. With Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders on the roster, a duplicate of talent already exists so adding Henson to the equation makes little sense.

Zeller reminds me of Tyler Hansbrough in a few ways. First, he's white and relatively unathletic. Two, he's polished offensively coming out of college and isn't likely to develop much more than he already has. Third, they're both former Tarheels. He's a safe pick, and since the Bucks are thinking playoffs, they don't have time to sit on a project anyway.

13. Phoenix Suns - Terrence Ross, Washington (SG)

Two things: I expect the Suns to re-sign Steve Nash, and I expect the Suns to draft a scoring wing.

It would be incredibly frustrating if this was the season the Suns decided to start a full rebuild - the last two seasons of .500 ball would feel like a lot of wasted time, if that were the case.

No, I believe this is the season the Suns finally get it back together and make one more push at the western conference in the Steve Nash era before moving on. Doing so requires an infusion of talent, specifically offensive talent (who would have thought, three years ago? Honestly?) at either SG or SF. Ross is a slasher, a finisher in transition and a passable shooter. Lamb would have been the ideal fit, but Ross isn't too bad as a plan B.

14. Houston Rockets - John Henson, North Carolina (PF)

I'll admit it. I have absolutely no idea what the Rockets actually need. They seem set at every position... with role players. Houston's GM, Daryl Morey loves to collect assets to use in the elusive "superstar trade". As a result, the Rockets are a team full of players that should be third and fourth options at best. So at this point, I'm thinking what the Rockets need most is more assets, to help make that superstar trade finally happen.

John Henson probably has the most trade value out of all the prospects left, so he's the lucky #14!

The rest of the first round will be filled out below, minus the commentary. See if you can work out my logic - let me know if you're thinking what I'm thinking - or not!

15. Philadelphia 76ers - Meyers Leonard, Illinois (C)
16. Houston Rockets - Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State (PF)
17. Dallas Mavericks - Austin Rivers, Duke (SG)
18. Minnesota Timberwolves - Dion Waiters, Syracuse (SG)
19. Orlando Magic - Terrence Jones, Kentucky (SF/PF)
20. Denver Nuggets - Royce White, Iowa State (PF/SF)
21. Boston Celtics - Moe Harkless, St Johns (SF)
22. Boston Celtics - Fab Melo, Syracuse (C)
23. Atlanta Hawks - Marquis Teague, Kentucky (PG)
24. Cleveland Cavaliers - Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure (PF)
25. Memphis Grizzlies - Doron Lamb, Kentucky (SG)
26. Indiana Pacers - Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt (SF)
27. Miami Heat - Quincy Miller, Syracuse (SF)
28. Oklahoma City Thunder - Evan Fournier, France (SG)
29. Chicago Bulls - Tony Wroten, Washington (PG)
30. Golden State Warriors - Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt (C)


  1. i can agree with most, i had marshall going to NOH to create a powerful 1-4 combination for the next 10 years, but probably it makes more sense to have a scoring PG since Gordon is going to have the ball anyway.. It remains to be seen wheather it is a fitting combination or a ballhog-nation combination(monta-jennings).

    1. Thanks for the comment. I guess another variable will be how exactly Lillard turns out as a pro player - it's pretty well known that his teammates at Weber State weren't exactly NBA material. Does he remain a high volume scorer (successful or otherwise) or does he find a balance that he never had the luxury of looking for in college?

      If Davis was a bit more advanced offensively, then I'd absolutely say Marshall makes more sense. But, since he's probably not ready to contribute offensively at a high level, I think it'd be crazy for NOH to rely entirely on Gordon for offense - hence Lillard.

  2. The Rockets taking two power forwards at 14 and 16 doesn't make any sense. They already have Scola, who is arguably their second best player. Last year they drafted Montiejunas, a PF who could join their team next year, the year before that they drafted Marcus Morris-PF, and the year before that they drafted Patrick Patterson-also a PF. Drafting 1 PF wouldn't make sense, let alone 2. Meyers Leonard or Moe Harkless would make sense for them.

    1. Hey Dan - thanks for the comment.

      "So at this point, I'm thinking what the Rockets need most is more assets, to help make that superstar trade finally happen."

      This was my line of thinking. Morey's been active lately in pursuing a trade to turn all of his "B" chips into one "A" chip - that's what he was trying to achieve in the infamous nixed LAL-NOH-HOU trade before the season, and he was apparently very close to getting Pau at the trade deadline again.

      If the point were to have all these guys on the roster for several seasons to come, then absolutely it would make no sense at all. All I've done is give Houston the two guys that I felt would have the most trade value at that point in the draft - basically, what I'm saying is, Houston's greatest team need at this point is MORE trade chips!

      And some clarification: Motiejunas is an overseas stash project (like Scola was before him), Morris is a SF (and was drafted in the same class as Motie). Not that it really matter that much.

  3. Looks great mate, nothing too dairing though!
    John Jenkins will end up being the second coming of Kevin Martin and belongs in the first round.

    I would love to see John Henson learn from Camby and hopefully develop in his footprints.

    Also have high hopes for Tu Holloway if landing on the right team could be a killer sleeper.

    Great read anyway keep it up

    1. Cheers! There are a few that go against the prevailing opinion, like Henson falling to #14 (apparently worked out for Sacto - 5 would be a HUGE reach), apparently teams are drooling over Dion Waiters (some are saying mid-lottery), Drummond's measurements were out-of-this-world and some think Lillard could go at 6 - but yeah, for the most part, fairly conservative.

      Have to say I don't know too much about these late first round guys like Jenkins and Holloway, but I have seen their names around so you could be onto something!

  4. I agree with your thoughts of a shooting guard for Minnesota. The Wolves desperately need one but the mock drafts everyone else posts shows Minnesota grabbing a small forward.

    1. Well, they need a SF too. Their entire wing contingent basically sucks. Michael Beasley, Martell Webster and Wes Johnson all need to be replaced.

    2. I really need to find a way to get rid of anonymous comments without making it any harder to comment... I hate having no idea who I'm talking to!

      In a perfect world, the Wolves would love to get their hands on a player capable of playing both the 2 and 3 - I'm not sure any of the wings in this draft class are capable of that outside of Harrison Barnes... and he's obviously accounted for in the lottery. Maybe Doron Lamb, but I'm not sure he's good enough.