A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

2012 NBA Mock Draft – May 26th, 2012

with 4 comments

This is the first of my 1st round mock drafts for this season. It is not based on sources, just my intuition about what each team’s perspective will be going into the draft. I used the order according to team record. I will do a second mock after the lottery.

1. Charlotte Bobcats – PF Anthony Davis – The consensus #1 pick, there will be zero questions about who the Bobcats take if they get 1st overall. He is projected as a franchise changing prospect.

2. Washington Wizards – SG Bradley Beal – Washington likely chooses between Beal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, giving John Wall a partner on the perimeter. Beal compliments him as a shooter and more importantly, is without as much offensive concerns.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers – SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – I’d got Cleveland taking Kidd-Gilchrist over anyone but Davis. “MKG” gives the Cavs a SF with huge defense/rebounding/leadership upside, solidifying a perimeter with PG Kyrie Irving for the next decade.

4. New Orleans Hornets – PF Thomas Robinson – New Orleans seems like the fitting spot for Robinson to me. Robinson is an older player who’s immediate production in the Hornets frontcourt with C Emeka Okafor, can appease the uber competitive SG Eric Gordon enough to sign long term this summer.

5. Sacramento Kings – C Andre Drummond – The Kings don’t need any more shot needing perimeter players and could use a shotblocker beside the offensive Demarcus Cousins. Drummond is another squeaky wheel mentally for the Kings, but I expect them to be glad to take Drummond for his shotblocking potential without needing the ball offensively at this spot.

6. Portland Trailblazers – C Meyers Leonard – The best fit for Portland’s two picks in the top 11 is to come out with a scoring guard and center to fill their needs. It’s more difficult and rare to find a 7 footer with athleticism and skill like Leonard than a scoring guard, thus my guess is the Blazers fill their big man need first and their guard need second.

7. Golden State Warriors – SF Harrison Barnes – Golden State taking Barnes if he falls to them is one of the more obvious picks in the draft. With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee and Andrw Bogut holding down starting positions next year, Barnes slides in at the long term SF spot as a smooth complimentary scorer.

8. Toronto Raptors – SG Jeremy Lamb – If Harrison Barnes is off the board, I expect the Raptors to take one of Jeremy Lamb or Jared Sullinger, both extremely talented scorers, which is their biggest need.

9. Detroit Pistons – PF John Henson – Henson for the Pistons has been the closest thing to a leaked pick so far. Like the Kings the Pistons have a C who’s an offensive star in Greg Monroe, Henson is a need pick, giving them a shotblocker/rebounder to complete their frontcourt.

10. New Orleans Hornets – PG Kendall Marshall – If they Hornets go big with their first pick, their needs will be PG and SF with Gordon, Robinson and Okafor’s spots solidifed. The next best SF on the board is likely a reach, so a guard like Marshall or Damian Lillard is the best bet.

11. Portland Trailblazers – SG Dion Waiters – Waiters is a great compliment to Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum on the wing, providing dribble drive and playmaking ability they lack. Portland is passing on a better fit here in PG Damian Lillard who would stretch the floor for their offense, but Waiters upside is considered higher. His feel for the game may remind them a bit of a poor man’s Brandon Roy.

12. Milwaukee Bucks – PF Perry Jones III – Milwaukee once succeeding by taking an athletically dynamic risk in Brandon Jennings at 10th overall, coming out of skipping his college season to play in Rome. For a team in desperate need of upside to get them off the middle of the pack treadmill, they are the logical team to bite on Jones III.

13. Phoenix Suns – PF Jared Sullinger – If Sullinger falls to this point he will likely be considered the flat out best player available. With Marcin Gortat the Suns solidify a frontcourt of the future in the post Nash era.

14. Houston Rockets – PF Arnett Moultrie – Moultrie is an athletic, skilled PF with upside. Houston usually drafts best player available and likes to stock talent even if they aren’t great fits with their lineup – Moultrie is a value pick here.

15. Philadelphia 76ers – PF Terrence Jones – The likely pick for Philadelphia is a power forward to replace Elton Brand long term. Jones is a great physical talent and has upside to make it worthwhile for Philadelphia.

16. Houston Rockets – SG/SF Terrence Ross – Ross has the athleticism and skill to be a starter, like the Moultrie pick Houston is stocking talent and selecting best player available rather than for need.

17. Dallas Mavericks – PG/SG Damian Lillard – Lillard gives the Mavs a little more pop scoring wise next season and would likely be considered the best player available here.

18. Minnesota Timberwolves – SF Quincy Miller – The Timberwolves need a perimeter scorer to compliment Rubio and have shown a liking to “reclamation project” prospects who were once highly sought after but have taken a tumble down the ranks, such as Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, Darko Milicic, etc. Unlike them Miller hasn’t played in the NBA yet, but something tells me David Kahn is the type to take a risk on Miller finding his previously regarded star talent

19. Orlando Magic – PG/SG Tony Wroten, Jr. – This pick is made with the assumption that Orlando are planning to trade Dwight Howard this summer. Wroten, Jr. is considered one of the highest upside players at this point and would be in a perfect situation for his skillset if on a post Howard Orlando team, being given the opportunity to dominate the ball and have free reign offensively, which is all he knows how to do.

20. Denver Nuggets – PF/C Tyler Zeller – If Zeller falls this far he is likely a best player available pick. Although he’s not an ideal fit, picking Jordan Hamilton last year and essentially stashing and developing him on the bench proves the Nuggets may not be too worried about drafting for need or playing time. Zeller’s fundamentals on the team can also help Javale McGee get better.

21. Boston Celtics – SF Moe Harkless – The Harkless pick by Boston reminds me of San Antonio taking Kawhi Leonard last year. He gives them youth and length on the wing to compliment their old guys.

22. Boston Celtics – PF Andrew Nicholson – Nicholson has a skillset that can fit on most teams, as a big man who’s shooting ability can be a mismatch to guard and can stretch the floor. His high basketball IQ also fits on a squad like the Celtics. Doron Lamb is also a big possibility for one of Boston’s picks to spell Ray Allen’s minutes, assuming he resigns in Boston.

23. Atlanta Hawks – PG/SG Austin Rivers – The Hawks need more offensive firepower to get them over their middling hump. Although he replicates some of what Jeff Teague does for them, Rivers gives them scoring upside and will likely be considered a steal if he falls to 23.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers – SG/SF Jae Crowder – Crowder is getting a ton of love from the statistical community. Tristan Thompson did last year and the Cavaliers took him 4th, thus I am assuming they make decisions with a heavy influence from statistical metrics. Despite some measurement concerns likely restricting him to playing SG, I expect the Cavaliers to be high on Crowder.

25. Memphis Grizzlies – SG Doron Lamb – Lamb is a picture perfect fit for the Grizzlies at this pick. They need consistent spot up 3pt shooting and spacing and with Lamb’s 46.6% mark in college, he should be headed for a long time career of hitting big open shots in the playoffs on good teams

26. Indiana Pacers – SG/SF Evan Fournier – Fournier is exactly the type of sneaky pick the San Antonio Spurs would make if they had a 1st rounder this year. Expect him to end up on one of the other progressive management franchises like Indiana, Houston, Oklahoma City, or Dallas. He’s a nice fit for Indiana because a PG pick aside, they don’t have the minutes for a rookie next year, thus they can stash him in Europe until he’s ready.

27. Miami Heat – C Fab Melo – Melo is a nice fit for Miami as he gives them some much needed 7 foot size and would have the ability to actually get minutes next year behind Joel Anthony at C.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder – SG Tomas Satoransky – Like the Pacers, the Thunder don’t have a ton of minutes available for any rookie. Andrew Nicholson if he fell here would be a great fit as a stretch PF on their roster, but if he’s not I like the idea of them taking a Europe stash pick like Satoransky, saving him for a rainy day.

29. Chicago Bulls – SG Marcus Denmon – The best fit for Chicago is a lockdown 3pt shooter in the backcourt. With Lamb gone, Denmon or John Jenkins are nice fits. Denmon won’t fill their need of a starting PG to replace Rose, but he can eventually play off him at SG.

30. Golden State Warriors – C Festus Ezeli – The two moves that made sense here to me were Golden State drafting insurance at PG and C if Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut get injured. At PG the best pick would be Scott Machado, but I expect Golden State to go in the direction of center, the more rare position.

Why didn’t this player go 1st round?s:

PG Scott Machado and PG Marquis Teague- Two of the best PG prospects in the draft, the problem for both is how little teams are looking to draft a PG. For teams with established to star PGs, drafting PG means getting a 15 minute per game backup – and the bigger problem than the minutes is just how abundant competent backup PGs are in the league. Indiana is the most likely late 1st team to take a PG.

PF Royce White – Red flags tend to get blown up in the draft, White being a mental question mark with anxiety issues could cost him a spot. He could go as high as top 20 to a team like Dallas or Minnesota, depending on who wants to take the risk.

SG/SF Will Barton – Barton has drawn some attention for his physical tools and production this season, but doesn’t provide a guaranteed role to a contender as much as some other prospects late in the 1st. Cleveland is a possible 1st round spot for him if they pass on Crowder.

PF Draymond Green – Despite his great basketball IQ, Draymond Green’s height and athleticism is likely too much to overcome to be drafted as an NBA PF or SF. Oklahoma City is a solid spot for him if he goes 1st round.

PG/SG Tyshawn Taylor – Taylor is an example of a dime a dozen type of player in the NBA, an athletic combo guard without a true position. His biggest problem is likely shooting inconsistency, making him a difficult fit on some great teams. Golden State looks like a reasonable team for him if he goes 1st round.

SF Jeff Taylor – In the NBA a SF without a certain degree of offensive polish will end up a 7th to 9th man. He could be a pick in the late 20s and would fill a hole for Golden State if they don’t draft SF with their first pick.

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Written by jr.

May 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Posted in NBA Draft

4 Responses

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  1. Not that you’re wrong at all about his draft position — this seems about in line with most mocks — but whatever’s happening with Jared Sullinger is fascinating to me. Last year before he decided to stay in school he was a contender for #1 and consensus top-3. I don’t think he really did anything this year to hurt himself. And while going into last year’s draft the thought was that 2011 was a weak class and 2012 was going to be a strong one, I’m pretty sure now it’s probably accepted that 2011 was at least above average and the expectation is that 2012 is at best going to be deep but with only at best two franchise players (Davis, and with a lot of luck Drummond).
    So the conventional wisdom on Sullinger seems to be that he’s somewhere between Milsap and Love. For Davis it’s Camby and Garnett. For MKG it’s Tony Allen and Gerald Wallace. Beal it’s something like Daniel Gibson and Eric Gordon. Drummond it’s out-of-the-league and undetermined hall-of-famer.
    The consensus worst-case scenario for Sullinger probably beats every other potential draftees’ worst cases. I’m pretty sure if he ends up being the second-best player in the draft nobody’s going to be surprised, and if he’s the best it’s not going to be shocking. Taking Davis over Sullinger is a gimme (I’d probably take Milsap over Camby, but the chance at Garnett is worth it), and taking Drummond is defensible (there’ve only been two dozen or so franchise centers and even if he isn’t one you’ve gotta take the risk). But otherwise, it’s interesting that he’s projected to slide. I remember the Paul Pierce draft — he was I believe considered a potential #2, and after he slipped past 4 pretty much everybody accepted he was the best player on the board, but teams were taking other guys based on potential or need or whatever. With Sullinger it’s like he’s slipping even though even before the draft everybody already knows he should be going higher.
    Is this because teams value a potential home run over a guaranteed double? If so, why? Only thing I can think of is rookie salary scales, and if it’s because of that rooks need to be getting paid more.

    jdw

    May 28, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    • jdw, I completely agree with you about Sullinger being on the track to embarrass a lot of GMs who pass on them and that he’s one of the biggest guarantees to start. After Davis the players I’d choose to start in the NBA if I had to bet my savings, would be Jeremy Lamb and Jared Sullinger, and I think both guys have all-star upside as well. What it comes down to is that draft prospects and particularly big men, get judged way too much on their raw physical tools and non chiseled freaks get called low upside players, when in reality their upside may very well be huge – look at Love, Greg Monroe, Brook Lopez, etc. compared to some of the players above them. I believe Sullinger’s greatest trait (and I’m starting to convince myself that this is the most important trait for every prospect) is “spatial awareness” and the ability to recognize exactly where he and everyone else is on the court. The thing is this concept has ZERO implications on where players get drafted. There is no evidence it plays a part at all. Thomas Robinson, Andre Drummond, Terrence Jones, John Henson, Austin Rivers are players with that spatial ability being a huge red flag and they aren’t effected whatsoever, while players like Sullinger and Lamb have special spatial awareness and basically aren’t helped. I wonder sometimes if the fact that (seemingly) a lot of scouting is done with live watching, if it’s harder to see something like Sullinger’s insane feel for the court, than it is on tape.

      julienrodger

      May 29, 2012 at 9:44 am

  2. I’m a long-time, somewhat respected poster on the Raptors board. I enjoy reading your posts. You get a lot of slack especially from the mod crew and their cronies because they’re insecure and threatened and cannot stand people with strong opinions. I’ve seen the same half dozen posters attack others over the years who have a similar posting style. I don’t think you pick names out of a hat and throw them against a wall… That’s ridiculous. Everyone knows (except the mods and their cronies, apparently) that players picked later in the draft are often better than top picks. You tend to focus on these players, which is fine. Anyway, keep your head up, don’t let the peanut gallery get to you. There’s people on that board that appreciate and respect your insight.

    Todd

    May 30, 2012 at 6:58 am

    • Appreciate the words, Todd

      julienrodger

      May 31, 2012 at 12:01 pm


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