In a surprising twist on Wednesday night, the New Orleans Hornets jumped over 3 teams, that had better odds of getting the pick, to secure the #1 selection in the upcoming 2012 NBA Draft. Despite finishing the 2012 season with a league worst 7-59 record, Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats lost out on the top pick, having to settle for the #2 selection.
In a season filled with tons of losses, including losing 23 consecutive games to end the season, it was yet another dissapointment for Bobcats majority owner Jordan. Additionally, the fact that the formerly NBA owned Hornets, (Saints owner Tom Benson recently purchased the franchise), has fueled conspiracy theories that this year’s Draft was rigged.
In another odd twist, New York’s newest team, the Brooklyn Nets, lost out on the #6 pick because it was Top 3 protected from the Gerald Wallace trade, meaning Brooklyn’s pick now goes to the Portland Trailblazers.
Despite the out-of-left field imaginative theories, New Orleans now has the opportunity to select Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis, the reigning NCAA Player of the Year whom many say is the only clear cut game-changing player in this year’s Draft. The Hornets also get another quality player at #10 while the Bobcats will have to chose between top notch prospects Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, Andre Drummond, Harrrison Barnes, and Thomas Robinson at #2.
Check out our 2012 NBA Mock Draft – Lottery Picks:
Point Guard/Shooting Guard
6’3 195lbs Junior
While the average fan hasn’t yet heard of Lillard, he finished last season ranked 2nd in the nation in scoring and exudes athleticism that belongs at the next level. Right now he’s a better scorer than passer but in a less than spectacular point guard crop in this year’s Draft, Lillard may sneak into the late Lottery or middle of the 1st Round. Many have compared him to the offensive minded Mo Williams but with a higher ceiling. It’s no secret that the Rockets want another capable big man, meaning Mississippi State’s Arnett Moultrie is an option, but with recent rumblings that starting point Kyle Lowery may want out, Lillard may play two roles at #14 as best player available and when assessing team need.
6’4 195lbs Sophomore
Despite a serious hand/wrist injury that forced him to miss time during March Madness, Marshall remains the top PG prospect on the board. In his two seasons at UNC, Marshall has developed into the best pure passer in the college ranks. He excels at pushing the tempo from 3/4 court and has already drawn comparisons to future HOFer Jason Kidd. Because of a lack of overwhelming athleticism and defensive prowess, Mark Jackson may be a better comparison. With the Steve Nash era in Phoenix rumored to be coming to an end, it would be a seemless transition to insert the best PG available – Marshall.
6’6 195 lbs Sophomore
A former HS teammate of Kentucky’s Terrence Jones, Ross is an elite level perimeter shooter that excels in catch-and-shoot situations. He has above average athleticism, and can get to the rim in highlight reel fashion despite only average ball-handling ability. Ross reminds many of Rudy Gay but must add weight to play at the next level. Defense is only average at this point, but many think Ross can be one of the sleepers of this year’s Draft, a la Klay Thompson last season. With Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis making for a highlight reel backcourt, Ross would make a great 3rd option, or fallback plan if Jennings decides to leave via free agency once his rookie deal is up.
6’4 200lbs Freshman
The former #1 rated HS prospect has gone through some growing pains in his freshman season at Duke. Although he could have used another year or two of seasoning, he already has unlimited 3 point range and excels at getting to the rim. With that being said, he’s a bit undersized for SG and lacks outstanding PG skills. Right now, he’s primarily an offensive player with potential as a pick-and-roll/pop player in the NBA. If he’s still available, everyone knows his father Doc with the Celtics would love to Draft Austin, who reminds many of a young Gilbert Arenas, but the Blazers need another backcourt leader with Brandon Roy gone to retirement and LaMarcus Aldridge controlling the paint.
6’8 260lbs Sophomore
Although Jared posesses skill and a basketball IQ well beyond his years, many are now questioning what position he will play in the NBA. Jared struggled against bigger frontcourts like Kansas in March Madness. Sullinger is only 6’8 but plays like a center, and despite adding the 3 point shot to his game this season, his stock has slid a bit amidst fears of lacking outstanding athleticism and a penchant for injuries during his sophomore season. In the right situation, like being paired with a bigger center, Sullinger has potential as either SF or PF in the mold of Carlos Boozer, but is no longer considered a Top 3 pick like last season. With Chris Kaman all but sure to leave the Hornets via free agency, drafting another low post scorer like Sullinger makes sense.
6’10 230 lbs Junior
John made excellent strides in his offensive arsenal to add to his already dominant defensive prowess. Despite lacking outstanding strength, Henson is an elite level shot-blocker and an above average rebounder. He will need to bulk up to be a starting player but many think he has Lottery potential in spite of a recent rash of injuries late in his junior season. His impressive wingspan make him a defensive force in the mold of Sam Dalembert. Henson may prove to be the perfect defensive compliment to the offensive minded, great passing big man Greg Monroe in Detroit. Many have called John Anthony Davis “lite” for his elite shot blocking ability.
6’5 180lbs Sophomore
After bursting on the scene as Kemba Walker’s sidekick in helping UConn win the National Title as a freshman, Lamb has shown tons of individual improvement in his sophomore campaign. While he can get to the rim with the best of them, he has added an All Star caliber pull-up jumper to his arsenal, a skill that usually means instant success at the next level. Many have begun to make comparisons to HOFer Reggie Miller because of his slight frame, but keep in mind Jeremy is still only 19 years of age. Although the Raptors already have DeMar Derozan, you can never have enough scorers, and Lamb may turn out to be a great one. Don’t forget, it will seem like Toronto is getting 2 players since last year’s Lottery pick, big man Jonas Valanciunas, will arrive in the States for next season.
Perry Jones III
Small Forward/Power Forward
6’11 225lbs Sophomore
There’s no doubting Jones has Top 5 talent but has yet to show the intensity and desire to be a superstar talent. He returned to school for his sophomore season to improve his game but his stats look eerily similar to his freshman season. Perry is a physical specimen that has all the athletic ability to become a star but must get rid of the all too nice off the court persona. With that being said, he has Top 3 abilities and will be given a chance by some team by mid 1st Round at the latest. You can bet on some team taking a chance on Jones, why not Golden State. The Warriors need more length up front with their backcourt set via Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, unless your happy with the stellar play of Andris Biedrins and Mickell Gladness?
6’10 265lbs Freshman
Outside of Anthony Davis, Drummond has the most upside of any other player in the Draft. The 19 year old already has an NBA physique, but is still a work in progress on both sides of the ball. He’s an enigmatic player in that he will show flashes of greatness, then dissapear completely in big games like scoring only 2 points vs Iowa State in the Tourney. The potential is there but concerns remain about a laid back demeanor as the obvious comparisons to Amare Stoudemire remain. Could Drummond help erase the distraught of former #1 pick Greg Oden not panning out?
6’4 210lbs Freshman
In his lone season at Florida, Beal has lived up to the immense hype of being compared to Ray Allen as a HS recruit. He’s big, agile, and is much more than just a perimeter threat, showing an improved court vision and passing skills late in the season. Brad is an adept rebounder, plays the passing lanes well on defense, and will only get better with age. Some scouts think Beal now may have a higher upside than Barnes. Despite selecting former NCAA POY Jimmer Fredette as a perimeter scorer last season, Beal would solidify the SG position alongside Tyreke Evans for a decade.
6’9 240lbs Junior
Robinson has elevated his game to a new level, almost single-handedly helping the Jayhawks make it to an improbable National Title Game. He is as physical and strong as any player in the Draft and has added a 15 foot jumper to his arsenal, in addition to being virtually unstoppable inside the painted area. Robinson is arguably the most physically ready for the next level and has a ferociousness to his game that hasn’t been seen since Blake Griffin came out early at Oklahoma. With Antawn Jamison soon becoming ancient, Robinson helps anchor the frontcourt alongside last year’s Lottery pick Tristan Thompson and the defensive oriented Anderson Varejao. Brad Beal would also be a great fit alongside ROY Kyrie Irving if he falls to #4.
6’7 240lbs Freshman
Possessing an amazing amount of length(7 ft wingspan), athleticism, and strength, Kidd-Gilchrist projects as a lock-down defender with a capable yet still developing offensive game that reminds many of Gerald Wallace. Some GM’s think he could go as high as #2 because he has game take-over ability without having the ball in his hands. No player played harder on the college level and is a coach’s dream with a team first mentality. With an improved offensive game, Gilchrist could be a multiple All Star and franchise cornerstone. Pairing John Wall with fellow former Wildcat Kidd-Gilchrist could present a nightmarish dilemma for opposing defenses.
6’8 225lbs Small Forward
One NBA GM has been quoted as saying that only Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Barnes are the only trur can’t miss prospects in this year’s Draft. With that being said, Barnes hasn’t quite lived up to the hype of being a Pre-Season All American before ever setting foot on the NCAA hardwood. Barnes has developed into a lights out perimeter shooter in the mold of Glen Rice, with prototypical size and strength to play either the SG or SF at the next level. He sometimes settled way too much from the perimeter, snagged only 2 rebounds per contest, but his intruiging size and skill set make him a lock as a Top 5 pick. Despite Michael Jordan’s disastrous history with Draft picks, he would be wise to select Barnes, arguably the safest prospect in the Draft.
Few players over the past decade on the collegiate level have displayed the unique combination of athletic ability and length(7’6 wingspan) of Davis. He either dunks or blocks everything around the rim and just seems to do something amazing every game like single handedly winning games with a last second block or monster rebound. With perhaps the highest ceiling of any player in the Draft, Davis oozes potential and will undoubtedly be the top pick. Pairing Davis with incumbent star Eric Gordon and low post scorer Jared Sullinger gives New Orleans 3 cornerstones to build around.
June 4, 2012 – Check out which players our NBA Draft experts think will be taken with the Top 14 Picks in the 2012 Draft