Yesterday we looked at some of the players available in the 2012 NBA Draft. Today we’re going to look at the teams that will be selecting them, hoping to fill out their sufficient and insufficient rosters. If there were ever a good season to be a bottom-tier playoff team or top-tier lottery team, this would be the season. Unlike most seasons, where 90% of the talent really tapers off around picks eight or nine, this draft is deep and the opportunity to find a starter or great rotation player who will be able to contribute immediately is far better this season than it usually is. Or at least it’s perceived that way.
There isn’t a quick way to provide a collective synopsis for all these teams. There’s absolutely nothing that the Bobcats have in common with the Lakers that have in common with the Blazers. Everyone is fielding their own team which is unique to most every other team in the league. This draft is supposed to be particularly volatile on the trade market so this is more meaningless than it otherwise would be. None the less, let’s do a mock draft of sorts, suggesting which player each team should draft, because clearly we’ll know better than the hundreds of paid professionals employed by NBA owners to make these decisions for them.
1) New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis
Just take him, and they’re going too. They could use a new point guard more or whatever but Davis transcends position and is talented to the point you don’t worry about rotation or chemistry or anything along those lines. Put it this way, the Hornets entire current roster would be worth trading for Anthony Davis. The only piece you wouldn’t be able to immediately replace is Eric Gordon, who doesn’t seem intent on resigning and was injured all last season. So they kind of already are already missing out on him.
2) Charlotte Bobcats – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Apparently Gilchrist’s prospects are slipping, and I don’t understand why. If there was one player who I thought the “what you see is what you get” moniker would most aptly apply, it would have been him. He plays hard, is immensely talented and was drafted by Calipari. Calipari isn’t going to bring in a guy who’s a pro prospect out of high school that turns out to be a bust. Take Gilchrist, Charlotte. You need to max out this pick and him or Drummond are your best chance of doing so.
3) Washington Wizards – Thomas Robinson
Unlike the Bobcats, what the Wizards need more than anything else is stability. They have talent, they’re young and they have absolutely no chemistry, no depth and no leadership. Robinson, in addition to being talented enough, is a little older than the rest of his counterparts, was the unequivocal leader on his college teams and might offer a little sanity that Washington hasn’t had since…I can’t even remember who their last great character guy was.
4) Cleveland Cavaliers – Harrison Barnes
Full disclosure: I’m not the biggest fan of Harrison Barnes. He seems disinterested half the time and was almost solely responsible for more than a few UNC losses. But much like the Bobcats, it’s imperative Cleveland not only maximizes value with this pick but also doesn’t whiff. In other words, the Cavs need the best possible player they’re absolutely certain about. Someone who has the potential to be transcendent but at the very least will be one of the three best players on a good team. As much as I might not like Barnes, he first that role better than anyone else that will be available to them with the fourth pick. There’s rumors they might trade up to the #2 pick to ensure they get Beal, this seems very misguided. But leave it to Cleveland sports teams to sacrifice entirely too much for entirely too little.
5) Sacramento Kings – Andre Drummond
Is this team still in Sacramento? I really have no idea. I heard they were being moved – and that my hometown put its name in the hat to acquire them – but it doesn’t really matter where they’re playing because this team is a mess. They’ve essentially put together the greatest AAU team in human history, and the results speak for themselves. Take it from someone who played AAU, it isn’t exactly the most structured environment for extended adolescents. Beal would be the logical pick for most teams if he’s available, but if that’s they’re move they’re just doubling up on Tyreke Evans, making one of them redundant. We went with Drummond but it’s expected they will trade this pick on draft night, because there’s a good chance that Drummond is more of the same. And that’s the last thing the Kings need
6) Portland Trailblazers – Bradley Beal
This would be the best case scenario to fill the void left by Brandon Roy and a great complimentary piece to LaMarcus Aldridge, who is arguably in a dead heep with Tony Parker as most underrated player in the league (filling out the most underrated roster: these two, Louis Williams, Anderson Varejao & Paul George). Portland, like any well managed team, basically cleaned house and managed to lock up two lottery picks in the same year of the deepest draft in over a decade. They’re basically the Spurs who have never found an all-timer like Tim Duncan or a coach as exceptional as Popovich.
7) Golden State Warriors – Terrence Jones
This might seem high to most, but Golden State (Marc Jackson) wants to focus on defense, and Jones is probably going to be the best defensive player available to them at 7th. Anyhow, my favorite part of the Lottery was Golden State sneaking into the seventh pick – the lowest pick they could land and still keep, 8th or higher and they forfeit it to Utah – and the Warriors representative looking into the crowd and smiling at a colleague, as if to say the whole awful trade where they might have lost the pick with the subsequent tanking so they could keep it, was perfectly executed and well worth their trouble.
8) Toronto Raptors – Austin Rivers
This kid has NBA chops and we’re now fully on the bandwagon. Toronto needs someone who can make them visible and the son of an NBA champion (both as player and coach) who has as much talent as any other perimeter player in the Draft seems like the right way to go. If all things are equal – and we think Rivers is better than anyone else at this point – take the guy who gets you some publicity. Somehow it feels like the Raptors are more of an ABA team than the Bobcats.
9) Detroit Pistons – Perry Jones
They struck high value gold in Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight is entering only his second year and the Pistons seem to have faith in his eventual development after a promising rookie season, Rodney Stuckey is inconsistent, erratic and unreliable, but can still be an asset; and they just traded for Corey Maggette to share small forward duties with Teyshaun Prince. That leaves the power forward, and Jones is about the best available. The knock on him is he’s passive, but he’s also 6’11, 234 pounds and loaded with potential. They’re not going to find better value for what they need at 9th overall.
10) New Orleans Hornets – Damian Lillard
They have a lot of flexibility here with Anthony Davis being added to the roster, my guess is they will and should try to upgrade at point guard. And the best option here is Damian Lillard (though this is moot, as Portland is rumored to be taking him with their sixth pick). He went to Weber State, but he’s big for a point guard, has a little more experience than most and drafting him will help spread out their talent on the court. Between Lillard, Davis, Gordon, Aminu, Landry & Kaman, this could be a playoff team in the 2013-14 season assuming they can keep the crew together.
11) Portland Trailblazers – Tyler Zeller
Portland could very well end up trading this pick to move up from sixth, but if they don’t Zeller would give them a presence in the paint that was supposed to be felt by Oden. That’s the thing about this Portland team, they’re constantly filling holes that were already filled. Unluckiest franchise in sports, this side of anyone in Cleveland. Bar none.
12) Milwaukee Bucks – Jon Henson
More so than any team in the NBA, I forget this one exists. They aren’t nearly bad or nearly good enough to be memorable. Part of the reason for this is they could really use an upgrade at the three, four and five, so they’ll just take the best available at those three positions. I’m sure they’re hoping for Drummond and they very well may get him, but not in this mock draft. Here they’re getting Jon Henson and feeling pretty ambivalent about it. But if this is their best option (note: it won’t be), they should strongly consider drafting the best available and offering to trade it immediately.
13) Phoenix Suns – Dion Waiters
This is how ill-informed this is, because even I, the person writing this thing your reading, doesn’t think Waiters slips this far. But if he should, it seems pretty clear that the Shannon Brown as premiere starting shooting guard is a failed experiment. Waiters would be an ideal fit for Steve Nash, whose services they’re hoping to retain and Waiters would appeal to his sensibilities.
14) Houston Rockets – Royce White
All reports indicate Houston is doing everything it can to collect draft picks, move up in the draft and acquire all other additional assets in order to make a promising trade offer to Orlando for Dwight Howard or the Lakers for Pau Gasol. But assuming neither of these events happen, White is the best available at their weakest position, so White it is.
We’re going to stop here, at the end of the lottery, because none of this is terribly groundbreaking and somewhat incomplete and is rendered completely irrelevant by tomorrow night. Enjoy the draft, as it’s the last vestige of televised NBA events until late October. I’ll be tweeting during the event @c_gabely, should you want to join in on the discussion.