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David Aldridge

0627-unc-bigs-608.jpg
UNC's Tyler Zeller (left) and John Henson are looking like top 15 picks in the 2012 Draft.
Courtesy University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Like most mock drafts, this one an exercise in futility


Posted Jun 27 2012 9:49AM - Updated Jun 28 2012 3:30PM

This is where I would rather be doing anything else.

But I promise the powers that be at NBA.com that, once, I will try and predict the first round of the Draft. I do this despite my great reservations with anything as uncertain as this. I do this despite the fact that GMs and agents have no problem lying through their teeth this time of year -- about who they like, about who other teams like, about whether or not they actually liked the premiere of "The Newsroom" -- and they have no problem using some of my brethren to spread those lies.

So, you do the best you can. You don't even bother with the second round, because once you get past 40, it's stash time. Plus, invariably, the last dozen or so picks are met with a shrug, a frantic search of the Draft books and the hope that there is somebody who can pronounce this guy's name. So, for me, it is top 30 or bust.

You try to match team needs with the skills that the top prospects have, and you weigh the fact that there will be a dozen trades before the end of the night, and I've tried to point out those picks that I think will be sold or traded.

Last year, I got exactly three out of 30 picks right. That is, I'm fairly certain, a success rate of 10 percent. There are blind squirrels who find nuts at a higher rate. Which is why I hate doing these #&*% mock drafts. So, as ever, the caveat: if I get your team's pick wrong, I didn't want to do this in the first place. If I get your team's pick right, I will lord it over you and eat for free in your town for years to come!

1 New Orleans Hornets | Anthony Davis | C | Kentucky

No point wasting time on this. Davis is a game-changer, and the Hornets hope he's a franchise-changer as well. | Season highlights


2 Charlotte Bobcats | Thomas Robinson | PF | Kansas

A great rebounder (led the nation in defensive boards) who will start to stop the gales of laughter heard league-wide after a 7-59 finish. With Ben Gordon now in the backcourt, and Robinson up front with second-year center Bismack Biyombo, at least the Bobcats will start to look like an NBA team again. | Season highlights


3 Washington Wizards | Bradley Beal | SG | Florida

A team desperately in need of perimeter shooting and scoring takes a top-shelf prospect that could be the next Eric Gordon, putting a potentially terrific backcourt together with John Wall. May have gone in a different direction before last week's trade that brought Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza in from New Orleans for Rashard Lewis, but with the frontcourt relatively secure, a guard is the call. | Season highlights


4 Cleveland Cavaliers | Harrison Barnes | SF | North Carolina

They need a small forward. He's got the same agent as Kyrie Irving, and they're good friends. He's going to be a better pro than he was in college, he will shoot it very well and defend very well. He's going to be an impact player. Don't overthink it. | Season highlights


5 Sacramento Kings | Michael Kidd-Gilchrist | SF | Kentucky

The Kings have plenty of guys who can shoot and score. They need some guys who can actually stop the other team on occasion. Enter MKG, who probably needs a small market to develop and grow. Major trade possibility here. | Season highlights


6 Portland Trail Blazers | Dion Waiters | SG | Syracuse

No one has raised his Draft profile more than Waiters, the sophomore whose explosive offensive talents have NBA types drooling. New GM Neil Olshey wants to build a team with superior personnel, and Waiters has a chance to be that good. | Season highlights


7 Golden State Warriors | Damian Lillard | PG | Weber State

He's come on strong in the last month to become the consensus top pick at point guard. Yes, the Warriors have Steph Curry, but Curry's injuries the last two years have to give Golden State pause. The Warriors have a big man need, but none of them is good enough to take here. The one who could be, Andre Drummond, is just too big a risk at this point. | Season highlights


8 Toronto Raptors | Austin Rivers | SG | Duke

Rivers' skills as a combo guard and his belief that he's ready to do some damage in the pros make him a good pick for a Raptors team filled with good guys, but not a lot of edginess. Also doesn't hurt him that the incumbent point guard, Jose Calderon, has an expiring contract. | Season highlights


9 Detroit Pistons | John Henson | PF | North Carolina

The Pistons desire a defensive partner to play alongside Greg Monroe, and Henson, though slight of build, has the chops to help out right away. He's been linked to Detroit for the last couple of weeks, and did nothing to hurt himself in a Monday workout. | Season highlights


10 New Orleans Hornets | Kendall Marshall | PG | North Carolina

The Hornets are determined to re-sign Eric Gordon. Working on the assumption that they'll pull that off, adding a great passer like Marshall to feed Gordon on the wing and throw oops to Davis would speed up New Orleans' rebuilding. | Season highlights


11 Portland Trail Blazers | Meyers Leonard | C | Illinois

The Blazers start the post-Oden era by taking one of the most athletic bigs available in the Draft. Leonard's shooting performance at the Chicago pre-Draft camp earlier this month removed enough doubts about his hubris to make him a lottery pick. | Season highlights


12 Milwaukee Bucks | Tyler Zeller | C | North Carolina

The senior becomes the fourth Tar Heel taken in the lottery. He's more athletic than he looks, and he should be able to run with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis most nights. Bucks need big-man insurance in case unrestricted free agent Ersan Ilyasova walks. | Season highlights


13 Phoenix Suns | Terrence Ross | SG | Washington

Last year, the Suns almost took Iman Shumpert in the first round before opting for forward Markieff Morris. They'll get the guard they want this time with Ross, who has impressed a lot of teams during the interview process and who has caught Phoenix's eye. | Season highlights


14 Houston Rockets | Jeremy Lamb | SG | Connecticut

Too talented to slip any further. For a Rockets team that's likely to deal Kevin Martin at some point, either now or before next February's trade deadline, getting an heir apparent as good as Lamb makes too much sense. | Season highlights


15 Philadelphia 76ers | Terrence Jones | SF | Kentucky

With Lou Williams an unrestricted free agent, the Sixers could use someone who can score. Jones' potential as a stretch four who would fit right in with Philly's athletic frontcourt is too good to pass on, though. | Season highlights


16 Houston Rockets | Andre Drummond | C | Connecticut

Whether or not the Rockets keep this pick to put in a bigger package or hold onto it, Drummond's got too much potential to slip any further on the board. But if Houston wants to make another run at Howard, having a young center to be able to send back as part of the deal would be crucial. | Season highlights


17 Dallas Mavericks | Royce White | PF | Iowa State

The Mavericks are not in a position to take a project who may need two or three years to develop. Dallas' window is right now, and the bruising White could have the same kind of impact as a rookie as Kenneth Faried did in Denver last season. | Season highlights


18 Houston Rockets | Maurice Harkless | SF | St. John's

Rockets -- who am I kidding; there's no way they still have all these picks by Draft time -- add to their talent bonanza with the green-but-gifted Harkless. His jumper needs work but the stroke isn't broken, and he has as much upside as any of the freshmen that came out. | Season highlights


19 Orlando Magic | John Jenkins | SG | Vanderbilt

Until the Magic trade Dwight Howard -- it could take a day, or a week, or three months -- they have to surround him with as many legit shooters as possible for this to make any sense. Jenkins may be the best shooter in the Draft. | Season highlights


20 Denver Nuggets | Perry Jones III | PF | Baylor

With the caveat that the Nuggets could well be making this pick for someone else -- Denver's rotation is already filled to the gills, two deep at every position -- Jones comes off the board. He's a wildly talented player way too inconsistent to go earlier. | Season highlights


21 Boston Celtics | Jeff Taylor | F | Vanderbilt

The Celtics still hang their hat on defense, and Taylor makes pro scouts believe his lockdown abilities will translate to the NBA. With a desperate need to start slicing Paul Pierce's minutes at the three, Taylor could get into the rotation quickly. | Season highlights


22 Boston Celtics | Jared Sullinger | PF | Ohio State

Follow the dots: A) Sullinger was a top-10 prospect in the first round until his league physical turned up some major problems with his back and hamstrings, which has caused him to fall precipitously; B) The Celtics want to re-sign forward Jeff Green, who missed all of last season after undergoing heart surgery; C) Green's agent is David Falk; D) Sullinger's agent is David Falk; E) Falk insists that Sullinger will have a long pro career and that he'll be able to play with the bad back; F) Glenn (Doc) Rivers played 13 NBA seasons with a bad back; G) Glenn (Doc) Rivers is the Celtics' coach; H) Sullinger is a high-basketball-IQ player who many scouts think should be productive offensively in the NBA despite little jumping ability. Make sense? | Season highlights


23 Atlanta Hawks | Fab Melo | C | Syracuse

Al Horford returned to the playoffs for the Hawks after missing time with a torn pectoral muscle, but this has been an undersized team for years. It's time to start bringing in some more talented young bigs. Melo is capable of playing NBA-level defense right now and with Zaza Pachulia entering the last year of his deal, Atlanta needs some frontcourt reinforcements. | Season highlights


24 Cleveland Cavaliers | Kim English | SG | Missouri

English is a big-time shooter who has excelled throughout the post-college process after his second-seeded Tigers were shocked in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. His ability to fill it up would create major driving lanes for Irving and Barnes; Barnes' ability to create will keep English open on the wings. | Season highlights


25 Memphis Grizzlies | Arnett Moultrie | PF | Mississippi State

The Grizzlies are expected to sell this pick to one of the teams that currently do not have a first-rounder, like New Jersey, San Antonio or Utah. Any of them would do well to grab Moultrie, who became a star as a junior in Starkville and is an excellent value pick here. | Season highlights


26 Indiana Pacers | Marquis Teague | PG | Kentucky

This pick will almost certainly be for someone else (I'm looking at you, Lakers), as the Pacers are loaded at every position and have no need to tie up money for someone who's not likely to crack their roster. Plus, they have to re-sign center Roy Hibbert. Teague's too good to be a third-stringer, anyway, but good point guards are always in high demand. He would certainly be worth the $3 million that is the going rate to sell first-rounders. | Season highlights


27 Miami Heat | Draymond Green | SF | Michigan State

The champs pick up another high-character player for their rotation. Green will learn how to play both forward spots from LeBron James and Shane Battier, and his motor and smarts will get him playing time faster than you may expect on a veteran team. | Season highlights


28 Oklahoma City Thunder | Andrew Nicholson | PF | St. Bonaventure

Nicholson is a very talented power forward with stretch four abilities. He also rebounds better than advertised. The Thunder could use another body who can put the ball in the basket, and Nicholson would be a good complement off the bench with Nick Collison. | Season highlights


29 Chicago Bulls | Doron Lamb | G | Kentucky

Lamb is as good a shooter as there is in the Draft, and his performance in the NCAA championship game showed he can play on the big stage. The Bulls have to have as many shot-makers and/or scorers on the court as possible next season while they wait for Derrick Rose's return. | Prospect Profile


30 Golden State Warriors | Evan Fournier | SG | France

Fournier, the top international prospect, would be a safe, low-risk/high-reward pick for the Warriors, with the kind of talent that would be easy to move if desired. He isn't very fast, and he doesn't shoot it very well, but he knows how to play, and he'll help Golden State.

Longtime NBA reporter and columnist David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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