Obviously things are moving quickly and the rumor mill is running at full speed, so the draft order might change soon after I post this mock draft. This is my best effort and my best guess, please note that I did the final mock as the draft order stood as of 5am Thursday morning and I didn't guess at any trades that might happen after that. This is who I think these teams should, or who writers who cover them in some cases think they should take. We'll see how it goes; the Rockets could throw a monkey wrench into this draft order. Special thanks Dylan Gwinn, Brian Packey, Jordan Sams, Kristofer Habbas, and Conrad Kaczmarek for helping with this mock draft.
1. New Orleans: Anthony Davis (C - Kentucky)
No secret here, the struggling Hornets will take the best player in the draft and I think a future star. Davis can do it all, he's one of the best prospects to come out in the last decade. On offense, Davis has a post game with a good short hook, has range on his jumper out to 15 feet, and handles well as a former guard. Defensively, he's the best prospect to come out since Dwight Howard in 2004. At 6-11 with a 7-5 wingspan, great athleticism, and great timing; he has a chance to be one of the best shot blockers in NBA history.
2. Charlotte: Thomas Robinson (PF - Kansas)
I think Bradley Beal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are better players, but reports indicate that the Bobcats love the Kansas forward. Robinson is a great athlete who runs the floor well but also has a pretty good post game. On defense he's sound, but not great. In his one year as a starter at Kansas, Robinson averaged 17.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game. The Bobcats have a couple decent perimeter players with D.J. Augustin, Kemba Walker, and Gerald Henderson, but nothing in the post. Thomas Robinson has the make of a future all-star and should fit in well with guys like Walker and Wallace who like to play up-tempo.
3. Washington: Bradley Beal (SG - Florida)
Wizards pick made by Wizards fan, Sportstalk 790's Dylan Gwinn
With the 3rd pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards will select Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The Wizards upgraded their front court with Nene and Emeka Okafor. They also added perimeter defense with Trevor Ariza. Kidd-Gilchrist will provide a much needed offensive boost to support John Wall, and help the team win more close games. The Wiz will also look to improve on Kidd-Gilchrist's jump-shooting. So, he can provide the jump-shooting to compliment John Wall's "attack-the-basket" style.
4. Cleveland: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (SF - Kentucky)
Cavs pick made by Conrad Kaczmarek from SB Nation blog "Fear The Sword".
With the fourth pick, the Cavaliers simply nab the best player left. In this case, that's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The Cavaliers have needs at nearly every position and while they could definitely use help on offense, they weren't exactly stellar on defense. MKG would bring endless effort, hard-nosed defense, and aggressive playmaking. Furthermore, it gives Kyrie Irving a running mate in transition. Also, MKG and Kyrie played on the same high school basketball team. It's a match made in heaven. Or New Jersey. Or something.
5. Sacramento: Harrison Barnes (SF - North Carolina)
The Kings desperately need a small forward with length and an outside touch from the perimeter; Barnes gets check marks on both. Barnes might be the most naturally gifted player in this draft (Kevin Durant type talent), but struggled with consistency and expectations last season. The biggest weakness of Barnes on offense is he isn't very good at creating his own shot and needs his point guard to play well to be at his best. If Barnes gets better in that area and reaches his full potential, he'll be a steal with the 5th pick.
6. Portland: Andre Drummond (C - UCONN)
Portland needs a defensive big to put next to LaMarcus Aldridge and Drummond is the next highest rated center after Anthony Davis. Drummond projects to be a very good rebounder and shot blocker, but if the Trail Blazers are expecting anything out of him offensively; they're likely to be disappointed. Drummond has virtually no offensive game with no post moves, no range on his jumper, and was a terrible free throw shooter at 29% last season. He's got big time natural power and athleticism so maybe he can improve, but at this point he's only capable of scoring on put-backs and off the creation of others off a dribble-drive pass.
7. Golden State: Meyers Leonard (PF/C - Illinois)
The Warriors biggest need is a small forward and they may consider trading back to pickup either Terrence Ross or Moe Harkless. If they stay here, I think they'll add the very talented center from Illinois. You can never have too many bigs, and Andrew Bogut has proven to be injury prone, so I think this would be a solid pick. Leonard is crazy athletic and has huge upside. During his 1 season as a starter at Illinois, Leonard averaged 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, and shot 58% from the field. Leonard has a pretty good jumper out to 12-15 feet, is good in transition, and blocks a lot of shots. Biggest weakness, he'll need to add some bulk for defense in the post and need to work in on his back to the basket game on offense.
8. Toronto: Dion Waiters (PG/SG - Syracuse)
Waiters has lot of talent, but the question is; where do you play him? He plays a similar style game to Dwyane Wade (not saying he has the talent of Wade) with good strength and athleticism, but lacks the prototypical size and 3-point shooting touch of a 2 guard. Some scouts don't think he'll be able to play the point in the NBA, and while he doesn't have the game of the traditional point guard, I think he can get the job done. Waiters is great off the dribble, is very aggressive, can over-power most defenders and with the Warriors, he'll have some help at the point. With Waiters on the roster, he can run the point for the majority of the time allowing Stephan Curry to be more of a shooting guard taking advantage of his great shooting ability, and move Klay Thompson to the small forward.
9. Detroit: Jared Sullinger (PF - Ohio State)
Pick made by SB Nation writer Brian Packey from Detroit Bad Boys
Sullinger would be a nice supplement to the offense that Greg Monroe already provides Detroit's front court. Although he's not a true above the rim defensive-type player that the Pistons really need, Sullinger put up numbers in college that are hard to pass on at the No. 9 slot. We're aware of the red flags that come with Sullinger, but it didn't stop him from putting up big numbers in college and the Pistons training staff is one of the best in the league.
10. New Orleans: Damian Lillard (G - Weber State)
New Orleans will be doing jumping jacks if Lillard is still available here; could go as high as 6 to Portland. The Hornets need a point guard and will jump at the chance to select the highest ranked one in the draft. Some scouts doubt his ability as a true point guard, say he's more of a scorer than a passer, but he's a great athlete and has a great jumper, and can get the job done. The fortunes of the Hornets have changed very quickly with the addition of Davis and Lillard.
11. Portland: Austin Rivers (G - Duke)
They would have preferred Lillard here, but will still be excited to take Rivers as a replacement for Brandon Roy. Rivers is a great scorer with his athleticism and ability to beat his defender off the dribble. I think he's a more natural fit at the shooting guard spot, but some scouts believe he can play point; not a traditional point, but maybe something close to Russell Westbrook. Either way, he and Aldridge should make a very nice combo for a number of years.
12. Houston: Tyler Zeller (C - North Carolina)
Let me say this first, I don't think the Rockets will be making their picks; definitely not all three (12, 14, 18). Everything they're doing in trade leading up to the draft is to give them the best possible chance to make a trade for Dwight Howard, or worst case acquire a pick in the top 5. If they do keep this pick, I like Zeller as a legit 7-footer who has a good post game, good jump shot, and is a decent shot blocker. He'll need to bulk up a bit to help his post defense, but even with Howard on the team; Zeller is no-brainer here to me.
13. Phoenix: Jeremy Lamb (SG/SF - UCONN)
Pick made by SB Nation writer Kristofer Habbas from the blog "Bright Side of the Sun"
The Suns are taking the wing that falls to them or deciding between (Arnett) Moultrie and (Kendall) Marshall, that much I know. If Lamb is the wing that falls he adds a scorer outside of the pick-and-roll for the Suns for the first time...Ever. Lamb is a smooth shooter that is excellent in the mid-range and from three. He could bulk up, or become this generations Reggie Miller type scorer.
14. Milwaukee: John Henson (C - North Carolina)
The Bucks have a talented back-court with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, but have almost nothing on the frontline after the departure of Andrew Bogut via trade. Henson is the best post-man available at this point and would instantly provide the Bucks a high-level rim protector at 6-10 with a 7-4 wing span. On offense Henson has a decent jump shot, a good close hook, and gets several points a game off of offensive rebounds. Biggest need for him going into the NBA will be to add weight. Henson was a 6-2 guard in high school before a growth spurt as a junior. He still has the shoulders of guard but has added nearly 40 points since his freshman year at North Carolina; adding another 20 would benefit him in the low post.
15. Philadelphia: Perry Jones (F - Baylor)
Pick made by SB Nation writer Jordan Sams from the blog "Liberty Ballers"
Perry Jones doesn't fill a team-specific need, per se, but his upside is too appealing to pass up, at this point in the draft. The Sixers could go Terrence Ross, who is the safe pick, but Perry Jones would blow minds and get Sixers fans excited.
16. Houston: Arnett Moultrie (PF - Mississippi State)
Great athlete who should excel on both offense and defense. On offense, Moultrie runs the court like a guard, can hit the jumper out to 15 feet, has a great spin move in the post, and finishes strong around the basket. During his one season as Mississippi State (transferred from UTEP), Moultrie averaged 16.4 points (54% FG, 78% FT), and 10.8 rebounds. On defense, he could add a little more weight and he doesn't block a lot of shots, but he moves very well and has the ability to guard small forwards, power forwards, and even centers. Some scouts compare him to Jermaine O'Neal which seems about right; good value pick here.
17. Dallas: Royce White (F - Iowa State)
This pick could might be Kendall Marshall, but I believe the Mavericks will sign Deron Williams and will look to address another need. White is a risky pick, but is a very versatile player who could turn into a home run pick for the Mavericks. Some scouts believe he is a top 10 talent, but concerns about his anxiety disorder and shooting range as a NBA small forward have caused him to drop down the board. I think he's worth the risk though, especially for a veteran team. White is a special prospect that at 6-8 can handle the ball and pass like a guard, and should be a perfect fit in the Mavericks offense. White averaged 13 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists last season at Iowa State.
18. Houston: Terrence Ross (SG - Washington)
Ross is a great value pick at this point in the draft. He's an athletic wing player with a great mid-range jump shot; range out to the 3-point line, and the ability to finish at the rim. Ross would instantly become the Rockets best outside shooter and would give them flexibility. Assuming the Rockets bring back both Courtney Lee and Goran Dragic, having Ross would allow Lee to play some back up point with Ross at the 2 and Parsons at the 3 when Dragic needs a rest. Bottom line the Rockets need at least more depth on the wings with the departure of Budinger and Ross is the best wing player available.