2012 mock draft lottery picks
With some NBA teams already hopelessly out of the playoff race, it's time to do what they're doing: Look toward the future.
The 2012 NBA draft looks like it might be one of the strongest in years, giving hope to the league's have-nots.
Even with UConn freshman center Andre Drummond likely to stay in school for a second season, the lottery is deep with talent. Here's how we see it playing out in June.
1. Charlotte: Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky, Fr.
No team in the league is more devoid of talent than Charlotte, and Davis would bring them a potential centerpiece in the paint. Davis impacts the game on both ends with his length and energy. He oozes potential with his long, wiry, underdeveloped body combined with his speed and athleticism. His shot shows good form but his post skills are a work in progress. Drummond is still a possiblity at 1, but right now he's projecting to return to UConn.
2. Detroit: Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina, Soph.
The Pistons have a nice nucleus after landing Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight in the last two drafts. Adding a player like Barnes would push them a step closer to bringing a competitive team back to the Motor City. With good size and a high, clean release on his jumper, Barnes should excel at the next level in catch-and-shoot situations. As a slasher, Barnes shows good body control and a soft touch when shooting on the move in the paint.
3. Washington: Jeremy Lamb, SG, UConn, Soph.
Lamb would be the perfect fit for the Wizards, who need a running mate for John Wall. Lamb has really refined his pull-up game off the dribble, a weapon that often propels players to the next level. He has broken out as UConn's go-to scorer and the top SG prospect in the country. His smoothness and long skinny frame is reminiscent to Reggie Miller. Lamb has ice water running through his veins and appears to be one of those players who elevates his level of play in crunch time.
4. New Orleans: Thomas Robinson, SF/PF, Kansas, Jr.
Robinson has really impressed scouts with his added face-the-basket skills. With a huge wingspan, the junior has played with great energy all season. Showing the ability to consistently knock down mid-range jumpshots, as well as get to the rim off the dribble, has elevated his stock to a top-10 pick. He's got the consistent motor and fire that seems to be lacking from fellow Big 12 forward prospect Perry Jones.
5. Sacramento: Arnett Moultrie, PF/C, Miss. State, Jr.
One of the most athletic bigs in the country, Moultrie is a force on the glass and scores in a variety of ways. He can even step out and bury college 3-pointers. Mississippi State has had an excellent season thus far and the talented transfer has been the biggest reason for their success. With great length and agility, Moultrie is an intriguing option for teams looking for size and athleticism.
6. Toronto: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky, Fr.
Kidd-Gilchrist's teammate, Anthony Davis, often gets compared to Kevin Garnett, but it's Kidd-Gilchrist who has KG's heart and passion. A strong forward with substantial length (7-foot wingspan) and athleticism, Kidd-Gilchrist projects as a shutdown defender who is likely to guard the opponent's top gun. He may not be your most adept shot-creator, but nobody plays with a higher motor. With strong character and a team-first mentality, NBA coaches will love what this kid brings to the table.
7. New Jersey: Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State, Soph.
The Nets appear to have their sights set on Dwight Howard, and adding a young PF like Sullinger to put next to him would be ideal. Sullinger possesses arguably the most refined post game in college hoops, sporting advanced footwork and a great feel for his defender's positioning with his back to the basket. His weaknesses are clear, starting with his limited speed and athleticism at the power forward position. He has also had a rough sophomore year battling the injury bug. Regardless, his effectiveness down low both as a scorer and rebounder make him an attractive prospect for teams in the 5-10 range looking to beef up their front line.
8. Utah (from Golden State): Brad Beal, SG, Florida, Fr.
More than just a spot-up threat, Beal can change directions, pull back and shoot off the dribble. As a ball-handler, he sees the open space whether it's splitting a double team or spinning away from his defender. He's also an excellent passer for a 2-guard. While he's extremely advanced for a freshman, he has hit some speed bumps this season. At times, he struggles to create shots and his shooting numbers have been inconsistent. But he's still seen as a likely lottery pick if he chooses to enter this year's draft.
9. Phoenix: Perry Jones, PF, Baylor, Soph.
Jones has been mentioned by some as a potential top overall pick. But based on his intensity level and lack of consistency, it's more likely he will end up in the 6-12 range on draft night. Midway through the season, his statistics look eerily similar to his freshman numbers. Some scouts claimed he wasn't in fact a lock to be a lottery pick after his freshman year. Jones has jaw-dropping physical attributes, but seems to have a hard time flipping the switch from his nice guy off-court persona.
10. Houston: Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois, Soph.
Leonard shined in his big matchup with Jared Sullinger, helping Illinois upset the Buckeyes. He's a fluid big man with great size and ability to add strength. He's still a work in progress and would benefit from another year of development in college, but his upside is enough where he will get looks in the mid to late lottery based on his upside. His jump in production from his freshman to sophomore years has been remarkable.
11. Cleveland: Terrence Ross, SG, Washington, Soph.
Ross is dangerous from outside, where he sports a clean release and sweet rhythm in catch-and-shoot opportunities. A smooth wing with NBA athleticism, Ross does an excellent job at stretching the floor by recognizing and occupying open space. He moves well without the ball and shows deceptive quickness with it, allowing him to get to the rim despite a shaky handle. Though Ross has been overshadowed by teammates at times, he's the most NBA ready player on a talented Husky team.
12. New Orleans (from Minnesota): John Henson, PF, North Carolina, Jr.
Henson has shown a lot of improvement between his sophomore and junior seasons. Many scouts now consider him a legit lottery candidate. His length and energy make him a disruptive presence on the defensive end of the floor, and a solid rebounder despite lacking great strength. If he can bulk up, it will help his ability to play inside at the next level. His FT shooting motion is one of the ugliest in basketball and it's difficult to know if he will ever become more then an energy player who brings rebounding and defense.
13. Memphis: Doron Lamb, PG/SG, Kentucky, Soph.
Lamb's overall skill set is not fully utilized playing on such a loaded team, but would mesh well with the Grizzlies' group of scorers. Lamb has been arguably UK's most consistent performer this season. Every time the team needs a big basket, it seems that Lamb answers the call. He's a clutch performer, has underrated PG ability and is an excellent teammate.
14. Houston: Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina, Sr.
Zeller isn't going to make anyone forget about Yao Ming, but he runs the floor about as well as you can ask from a big man and has been on a tear of late. Zeller has a nice package of size and skills. While he lacks ideal strength and appears to be a little injury-prone, he has a good feel for the game and gets strong reviews from NBA scouts.
Click here for the entire 2012 Mock Draft.