The following article is a guest contribution by Benjamin Haynes, Esq. Haynes is a former Division 1 Basketball Player at Oral Roberts University and currently practices law in the State of Florida.
The 2012 NBA draft could include the most talent we have seen since the 2003 draft. In that draft, Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh were all selected. I have assimilated a mock draft by which I tried not to just rank the players, but place them with teams according to each team’s specific needs. In certain situations, talent will be chosen over team needs; this is because either that player’s talent is unmatched or the team could potentially trade that player. Players can also improve or hurt their draft stock in the next month during their workouts with various teams. As of now, this is how I see the first round of the 2012 NBA draft playing out:
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis (Agent: Still searching). As a freshman, Davis led the Kentucky Wildcats to the school’s 8th National Championship. This 6’11 forward broke the NCAA single season block record, totaling 183 blocks last season. Anthony won National Player of the year, which is an incredible accomplishment considering that he took the 4th most shots on Kentucky’s team. Anthony’s unselfishness might be the most valuable asset the big man brings to the table, besides the unibrow, of course. Congratulations New Orleans. This player will be a franchise changer.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson (Agent: Tony Dutt/Rival Sports Group). Robinson had quite a journey at Kansas. The 6’9 power forward led Kansas to the National Championship game as a junior. As a sophomore, Thomas played behind the Morris twins and only averaged 7.6 points per game. Thomas took on the challenge of being “the man” his junior season, and averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds a game. For most of the season, Robinson was the leading candidate for National Player of the year before Davis came on strong. The Bobcats are getting a mature, solid player in Thomas Robinson.
3. Washington Wizards: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Agent: Leon Rose of CAA Sports). Gilchrist is a 6’7 beast who is the type of player every coach dreams of having on his team. Michael played alongside Anthony Davis at Kentucky last season and together their toughness, unselfishness, and willingness to win helped Kentucky hoist the trophy on April 2nd. It is hard to put your finger on exactly what Michael does specifically to help his team win, but this “Kidd” is an absolute winner and will bring that attitude to Washington while playing alongside former Kentucky star John Wall.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal (Agent: Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports). Beal had a great freshman season for the Florida Gators. The 6’4 shooting guard averaged 15 points and 7 rebounds a game. This former McDonald’s All-American plays with no fear and can do anything on the floor. He is NBA ready right now, and will be an asset to the Cleveland Cavaliers next year while playing alongside NBA’s rookie of the year, Kyrie Irving.
5. Sacramento Kings: Harrison Barnes (Agent: Jeff Wechsler of 24/7 Sports Management, LLC). Barnes was picked to be pre-season player of the year by nearly everyone. This 6’8 small forward has offensive ability which at times is unstoppable. However, Barnes did not show much improvement between his freshmen to sophomore season at North Carolina. This has hurt his draft stock from the previous year where some experts had him going number 1 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft. Still, Harrison’s potential is undeniable and Sacramento will enjoy his talent alongside Demarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans.
6. Portland Trailblazers (Pick from New Jersey Nets) Andre Drummond (Agent: Rob Pelinka of Landmark Sports Agency). Drummond is a 6’10 eighteen year old who has potential to be an NBA star. Drummond had his struggles as a freshman at UCONN, but Drummond has a big frame weighing in at 250 lbs. If teams pass on Andre based upon his production as a freshman, they could eventually end up having regrets once he matures as a player. Portland will have a great inside duo in Andre and LaMarcus Aldridge.
7. Golden State Warriors: Perry Jones (Agent: Bill Duffy of BDA Sports Management). There is no doubt Perry’s stock was hurt more than any other player by coming back to school for his sophomore season. Still, Perry is an NBA type player. Coming in at 6’11, Perry was going to be taken number 1 in the 2011 NBA draft if he would have kept his name in. He is extremely skilled and is the type of player who will thrive in the NBA. Scouts question his toughness and focus as Perry has been known to check out mentally at times. After workout’s I cannot picture teams letting Perry drop below the 10th spot in the draft. Golden State’s up tempo pace and athleticism will be a perfect fit for Perry Jones.
8. Toronto Raptors: Jeremy Lamb (Agent: Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management). As a freshman, Jeremy Lamb helped Kemba Walker lead UCONN to a National Championship. Lamb is 6’5 and has a very smooth game. However, once Lamb was the “go-to” guy as a sophomore, he seemed to struggle only shooting 33.6 % from three point land. Lamb has an NBA type game though, and offensively reminds me of Nick Young, minus the 4 inches. Toronto needs a scoring wing and Lamb will get significant minutes right away.
9. Detroit Pistons: Jared Sullinger (Agent: David Falk of FAME). Jared is one of the most skilled big men to come through the NCAA ranks in a long time. The 6’9, 265 pound power forward led his Ohio State Buckeyes to their first Final Four since Mike Conley and Greg Oden did so in 2006-2007. Sullinger would have been a top 5 pick in last year’s NBA draft, but opted to come back to school to chase an NCAA Championship. Sullinger improved his outside game and consistently knocked down 15 footers all year long. Coming back for his sophomore season might have hurt Sullinger’s draft stock, but he definitely improved as a player. Detroit is in need of a solid power forward, and Sullinger is their guy.
10. New Orleans Hornets (Pick from Minnesota Timberwolves): Kendall Marshall (Agent: Alex Saratsis of Octagon Basketball). The 6’4 Marshall was the best true point guard in the NCAA last year. Marshall won the Bob Cousy award (Best Point Guard) and also finished 2nd in assists in the NCAA. Kendall was the leader of the talented North Carolina squad and unfortunately injured his wrist in the NCAA tournament. Marshall has a suspect looking jump shot, but when left open he knocked down his fair share of three’s, shooting 35% as a senior. We anticipate that Anthony Davis will be on the receiving end of many of Marshall’s lob passes.
11. Portland Trailblazers: Damian Lillard (Agent: Aaron Goodwin of Goodwin Sports Management). This 6’3 point guard flew under the radar playing at Weber St, but there is a reason he will be taken early in this year’s draft. Lillard is a score first point guard and he scores extremely well. He was the 2nd leading scorer in the NCAA last year, scoring 24.5 point per game. The only knock on Damian would be that he scored against weaker competition. The best school Lillard played against last year was against California, where he was a mere 4 for 17 from the field and scored only 14 points. Still, Damian is an explosive scorer and will really impress during his workouts. Portland is where he will be heading.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Tyler Zeller (Agent: Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports Management). Zeller decided to return to school for his senior season in pursuit of a national championship. The seven footer’s stock didn’t really move up or down. Zeller attacks the rim once he gets the ball on the block and he is also a tremendous free throw shooter (81%). During his senior season, he showed us that he is more than capable of stepping outside and knocking down 15 footers. Zeller is not super athletic,but he is very skilled and the Bucks are in need of a center to help out Drew Gooden and Kwame Brown.
13. Phoenix Suns: Austin Rivers (Agent: David Falk of FAME). Rivers comes into the NBA at 6’4 with tremendous skills. Austin has tremendous one on one game and will flourish more in the NBA than he did in college. Austin, whose dad is Doc Rivers the former NBA player and now coach, has grown up around basketball and is an extremely hard worker. Most people label Austin Rivers as a great shooter, maybe because his YouTube mix tape is the second best high school mix tape of all time, behind John Wall’s of course. However, in Rivers only season at Duke he shot 35% from three and a terrible 65% from the free throw line. Still, Rivers is a tremendous talent and will bring a young, offensive weapon to play alongside Steve Nash and an older Phoenix Suns squad.
14. Houston Rockets: Meyers Leonard (Agent: Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management). Meyers is a 7 footer who has potential to be a future force in the league. At Illinois, Leonard averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds a game. Choosing Leonard will be a risk, but it is hard for teams to pass on a skilled seven footer. The Rockets have enough power forwards, but are in need of a backup center. Leonard will be that guy.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: John Henson (Agent: Jim Tanner of Williams & Connolly). The 6’11 Henson really improved his all-around game by returning to school for his junior season. Henson was one of the top shot blocker’s in the NCAA last year, but where he really improved was his jump shot. Henson has the ability to knock down a mid-range jump shot which is essential for him because Henson weighs only 220 and will not be posting big men up on the block in the league.
16. Houston Rockets (Pick from New York Knicks): Terrence Ross (Agent: Aaron Mintz of CAA Sports). Ross is a 6’7 athlete who played two seasons at the University of Washington. During his sophomore season, Ross averaged 16.4 points per game. Ross is extremely athletic and fast, but could use a summer in the weight room and working on his ball-handling skills in order to improve his game.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Terrence Jones (Agent: Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group). The 6’9 former Kentucky Wildcat had a tremendous overall season for Kentucky in route to their National Championship. While his numbers are not staggering, Terrence accepted his role and played extremely well. Jones is a power forward lefty who can step out to shoot a three, or post up on the block. As a freshman, Jones could only go to his left hand but during his summer off season workouts he developed his right hand and it will pay dividends for him in the NBA.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (Pick from Utah Jazz): Moe Harkless (Agent: Happy Walters of Rogue Sports). Moe is a 6’8 shooting guard who had a one year stint at St. Johns. Harkless is a very aggressive offensive player who averaged 15.5 points per game last season. He needs to improve his outside shooting as he only shot an embarrassing 21.5 % from behind the arc last season.
19. Orlando Magic: Marquis Teague (Agent: Andy Miller of ASM Sports). Teague was under a lot of scrutiny the beginning of his freshman season at Kentucky. The 6’2 point guard had big shoes to fill in following the likes of great point guards coach Calipari has produced, such as Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall, and Brandon Knight. Teague learned to run the team half way through the year and was crucial in winning the Final Four for Kentucky. Teague’s pure point guard skills will help bolster the point guard duties shared between Jameer Nelson and Chris Duhon.
20. Denver Nuggets: Dion Waiters (Agent: Rob Pelinka of Landmark Sports Agency). Dion spent two years at Syracuse University where he showed off his offensive skills. This 6’4 shooting guard has tremendous scoring ability. At times, he has flashes of scoring in a Dwyane Wade type fashion. His numbers aren’t staggering scoring only 12 points per game as a sophomore, but Syracuse had a deep roster last season and Dion only averaged 9.6 shot attempts a game. He will be impressive during workouts.
21. Boston Celtics: Arnett Moultrie (Agent: Derek Lafayette). Arnett spent his junior season at Mississippi State. This 6’11 Center plays with extreme passion and is a beast defensively. Moultrie can step outside and knock down a mid-range jump shot, and will bring energy off the bench to the team that selects him. He is a perfect fit for Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics with Kevin Garnett getting close to the end of his career.
22. Boston Celtics (Pick from L.A. Clippers): Tony Wroten (Agent: Greg Lawrence of Wasserman Media Group). Tony is a 6’5 point guard who spent one year at the University of Washington. Tony is a pass first point guard who has extreme potential and will play a great back-up role his first few years in the NBA. The Celtics could use a back-up for Rondo and Tony is a picture perfect fit.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Quincy Miller (Agent: Dwon Clifton?). Initially, the 6’9 forward stated that he would be returning to Baylor for his sophomore season. However, days before the draft entrance deadline Quincy announced he would be turning pro. There is no doubt that Quincy has skills offensively. However, like most freshman Quincy seemed to lack discipline and often shied away from contact. Miller has a strong upside to be an offensive asset in the future. Quincy seems like he will fit in well with Atlanta’s style of play.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (Pick from L.A. Lakers): Fab Melo (Agent: Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group). This seven foot big man offered a big defensive presence in the middle of Syracuse’s zone. Fab will need to improve his offensive skills and post moves on the block in order to be effective offensively. However, Melo plays hard and will be a defensive asset to the Cavs who will be young and talented with Fab, Beal, and Kyrie.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Festus Ezeli (Agent: Bill Duffy of BDA Sports): Festus played his college ball at Vanderbilt for four years. Ezeli brings a 6’11 NBA ready physique and should be able to meet the physical demands and rigors of the long NBA season. He finishes with authority around the rim, and once he gets a few post moves on the block he will be a valuable NBA player. Memphis will love him as a backup center to Gasol.
26. Indiana Pacers: Jeff Taylor (Agent: Todd Ramasar of BDA Sports). Taylor also spent four years at Vanderbilt. Jeff is a 6’7 forward who is extremely athletic and has improved his jump shot over his junior and senior seasons. Taylor will need to work on his ball handling in the off season in order to be truly effective. He will be a great role player off the bench for Larry Bird and the Pacers.
27. Miami Heat: Evan Fournier (Agent: Bouna Ndiaye of Comsport). Fournier is a 6’7 international player who has tremendous shot making ability. Evan is a tough nosed defensive player who can also finish around the rim. He will be the first international player taken in the 2012 NBA draft. He will be a spark for the Miami Heat off of the bench with Mike Miller’s injury problems and Shane Battier getting older.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Doron Lamb (Agent: Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group). Last season, Doron opted to return to Kentucky for his sophomore season. Lamb is a 6’4 shooting guard who shot 47 % from three in his two seasons at Kentucky. Lamb showed off in the National Championship scoring a game high 22 points. He will most likely play point guard in the NBA and will need to work on his ball handling skills in the summer. Oklahoma City needs a good combo guard to come off the bench to play some back-up point guard with Derek Fisher’s contract ending at the end of this season and Eric Maynor still recovering from knee surgery.
29. Chicago Bulls: Royce White (Agent: Andrew Vye of ASM Sports). White could be a hidden gem in the 2012 NBA Draft. White is a 6’8 wide body forward that spent his sophomore season at Iowa State. In the NCAA tournament, Royce led Iowa State to the second round where he shined scoring 23 points and 9 rebounds against the suffocating Kentucky defense. Royce will bring talent and energy to the Chicago Bulls off of the bench.
30. Golden State Warriors: Tyshawn Taylor (Agent: Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management). Taylor is a 6’3 dynamic point guard who can score with the best of them. He brings athleticism and energy to the table. However, Taylor is a little turnover prone and will need to work on his three point shooting as well. The Warriors have Monte and Stephon Curry playing the majority of the guard minutes, but Tyshawn will be a perfect back-up point guard to spell those guys some minutes.
Others who could be chosen first round:
- Andrew Nicholson (Agent: Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports): Andrew is a 6’9 power forward out of St Bonaventure. He is a high flyer with length who will offer depth for a team.
- John Jenkins (Agent: Undecided): Jenkins was one of the best shooters in college basketball last season. The 6’4 shooting guard played three years at Vanderbilt. He will need to improve his scoring off the dribble in order to get significant minutes in the NBA.
- Darius Miller (Agent: Doug Neustadt of The Neustadt Group): Darius is a 6’8 forward who is a tremendous three point shooter and can also put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. Darius spent four years at Kentucky and will be a solid contributor in the NBA.