2012 NBA Mock Draft: 16-30

1-15 16-30

 

16. Houston Rockets- C Arnett Moultrie (Mississippi State)

The Rockets’ biggest need is at center. They’re trying to trade for Dwight Howard with some of these picks and a couple of their top 3 players, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, and Kyle Lowry, but if that doesn’t work, Moultrie could develop into a starting center. He can play immediately behind Samuel Dalembert and could also play some power forward behind Luis Scola or possibly in place of Luis Scola if Scola ends up getting moved.

17. Dallas Mavericks- SF Terrence Jones (Kentucky)

The Mavericks need depth all around and won’t focus on any one position. Point guard is a major need in the starting lineup, but they’re confident they can get either Deron Williams or Steve Nash in free agency. Jones is a proven, NBA ready player who can play a role off their bench and add depth at both forward spots right away.

18. Houston Rockets- SF Moe Harkless (St. John’s)

With a roster in flux, the Rockets can afford to just take best player available here as well. Harkless is a rising prospect who could sneak into the lottery. If not, he adds depth at a thin small forward position and might be able to play immediately even ahead of Perry Jones, a more long term prospect.

19. Orlando Magic- PG Kendall Marshall (North Carolina)

Jameer Nelson is one of the worst starting point guards in a strong point guard league overall. Marshall is not much of a scorer, but he’s one of the most mature passers and true point guards College Basketball has seen this decade. I think he could be their starting point guard by the end of the season and will have a nice 10 year career somewhere in the league.

20. Denver Nuggets- SG Terrence Ross (Washington)

This is a pure best player available pick for the Nuggets. I haven’t seen him lower than this anywhere. He could sneak into the lottery and I strongly considered him at 17 for the Mavericks. Their depth behind Arron Afflalo at the 2 guard is lacking anyway and Ross can provide scoring off the bench for the Nuggets.

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21. Boston Celtics- PF Royce White (Iowa State)

Royce White is a top-10 talent, but he is an enigma because of noted anxiety issues. However, the Celtics are rumored to have given him a promise so they clearly aren’t too worried.

22. Boston Celtics- C Fab Melo (Syracuse)

The Celtics only have 4 players under contract, 5 if you count the 21st pick, so they can really go anywhere with this pick, but they lacked size last year, even when they had everyone under contract. Melo is commonly mocked here. Danny Ainge might see Kendrick Perkins in Fab Melo and if they can bring back Kevin Garnett to help mentor him, he’d have his best chance of capitalizing on his Perkins-esque upside.

23. Atlanta Falcons- SF Quincy Miller (Baylor)

The Falcons need help basically everywhere with 6 players under contract for next season. Here they take a shot on a top-5 talent who had a disappointing college career and hope he pans out. It might be their only chance to break out of their “lose in the 1st/2nd round every year” rut. They need a star.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers- PF Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure)

The Cavaliers are very thin on the wing so they could take a swing man here, but everyone seems to have Nicholson here. I guess they could use some more depth in the front court and teams rarely draft for need this late anyway.

25. Memphis Grizzlies- SG Evan Fournier (France)

Fournier headlines a weak foreign class and could be the only foreigner to go in the 1st round. The Grizzlies draft him as insurance for OJ Mayo and can stash him overseas another year or two if Mayo returns.

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26. Indiana Pacers- SF Draymond Green (Michigan State)

With no pressing needs whatsoever, the Pacers could add depth in the backcourt or at center, where they have key free agents. Or they could take a player like Green who best fits their style of play. Their hardnosed coaching staff will love him.

27. Miami Heat- SG John Jenkins (Vanderbilt)

Anyone who watched The Finals knows the Heat’s offensive game is drive and dish. Jenkins shot above 40% from 3 all three seasons at Vanderbilt so he would fit in very well with them.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder- SF Jeffery Taylor (Vanderbilt)

The Thunder don’t really need anything, but they could use another swing man. They have enough big guys and need another player so they can play more small ball. Taylor might be able to become something for them.

29. Chicago Bulls- SG Doron Lamb (Kentucky)

Lamb could mature into a nice bench scorer for them. Immediately, he could provide some depth at both shooting guard and point guard, where they’re thin, especially with Derrick Rose possibly out for all of next season.

30. Golden State Warriors- C Festus Ezuli (Vanderbilt)

They acquired Andrew Bogut, a true center, but he’s no sure thing with injuries. Ezuli can provide some depth and insurance.

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2012 NBA Mock Draft

1-15 16-30

Updated 6/27/12

 

1. New Orleans Hornets- PF Anthony Davis (Kentucky)

No surprises here. Anthony Davis has been the consensus pick since David Stern gave New Orleans the 1st overall pick in the sale of the team. And no, I don’t beat my wife.

2. Charlotte Bobcats- PF Thomas Robinson (Kansas)

It’s between Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson here, with the Ben Gordon trade eliminating Bradley Beal as an option. The loss of Maggette in the Gordon deal could be a signal that a swing man like MKG will be the pick, but Robinson seems to be the consensus right now. The Bobcats need a power forward as much as they need a small forward and Robinson would fill the gap there. They’re also trying to trade down, possibly to 4, where they’d have a choice between Harrison Barnes and MKG, two small forwards, but if they stay put, I think Robinson will be tops on their board.

3. Washington Wizards- SG Bradley Beal (Florida)

The Wizards acquired Emeka Okafor and Matt Barnes in a salary dump this month, which makes it less likely that this pick will be a big man like Andre Drummond or a small forward like Harrison Barnes or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Shooting guard is their thinnest position and Beal can come in and be an instant starter.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers- SF Harrison Barnes (North Carolina)

It’s between MKG and Barnes here with Bradley Beal gone as the Cavaliers don’t have anything on the wings. They’re desperately trying to trade up to 2 to grab Bradley Beal, another sign that the Wizards will take him and that he won’t be here. If they can’t do that, I think Barnes will get the edge over MKG. Reports say that the Cavs will not let Barnes slip past them if they stay put, so while he might not be the consensus top available, he could easily be tops on their board.

5. Sacramento Kings- SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky)

The Kings have good young talent and no problem scoring the basketball. They just can’t stop anyone. They averaged 6th in the league in scoring with 98.8 points per game, most among non-playoff teams, but no one allowed within 3 points of the 104.4 they allowed per game, dead last in the league. I have major concerns about his ability to shoot and, for that reason, I think he has the highest bust potential of anyone in the top 5. However, I don’t think he’ll drop past 5 because of his defensive abilities.

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6. Portland Trail Blazers- PG Damian Lillard (Weber State)

As much as they need a center, I think Damian Lillard will be the pick here over Andre Drummond for several reasons. For one, Drummond is a major role of the dice. Speaking of rolling the dice, www.partybingo.com has hundreds of fun games with huge payouts. Two, Lillard seems to be the consensus pick here, which makes sense since he was commonly mocked to the Trail Blazers at 11 before his stock started rising as he took his personal visits. The Trail Blazers need a point guard and Lillard can be that guy. They also have to make this pick with pick #11 in mind. They’ll be able to get a center like Tyler Zeller or Meyers Leonard at 11, but they’d have to reach to fill a need at point guard there. That could end up being the tiebreaker if one is even needed.

7. Golden State Warriors- SG Dion Waiters (Syracuse)

The Warriors are set at 4 of their 5 starting positions, with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee, and Andrew Bogut, but there isn’t a small forward available here. The Warriors are rumored to be interested in moving down, but if they can’t, they could add depth at point guard or center behind injury prone starters Curry and Bogut respectively. Or they could just take best available, which would probably be Waiters, a rising prospect and a commonly mocked player here. He’s a natural scorer who can come off the bench immediately, allow the Warriors to play some small ball and move Klay Thompson to the 3, and he can also play a little bit of point guard.

8. Toronto Raptors- SG Austin Rivers (Duke)

Another team that needs a small forward that won’t be able to get one, the Raptors will focus on another position. They’ve spent high picks recently on interior guys and could be getting Jonas Valanciunas over from Europe this year so they do a similar thing to what the Warriors just did, take a bench scorer, who can move DeMar DeRozan to the 3 and allow them to play small at times. Rivers could also play a little bit of point guard off the bench.

9. Detroit Pistons- PF John Henson (North Carolina)

The Pistons need another big man to go along with Greg Monroe. Monroe is a good offensive player, but doesn’t do much defensively. Henson might make Kevin Durant look like Shaq at 6-11 210, but he’s got incredible length and upside. He can block shots and rebounds right away, run the court, and shoot the mid range shot. He’s far from a finished product, but he can help the Pistons.

10. New Orleans Hornets- C Andre Drummond (Connecticut)

Andre Drummond was the other option at 9, but rumors say the Pistons are pretty locked in to Henson. Drummond is also going to be an option basically from 4 right on, but falls here to the Hornets at 10, who take him in a heartbeat needing a center after dumping Emeka Okafor on Washington. Drummond might be the biggest boom or bust prospect of the top 10. He’s got no offensive game right now, but he can play defensively and he’s got crazy upside. Of course, everyone said the same thing about Hasheem Thabeet.

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11. Portland Trail Blazers- C Meyers Leonard (Illinois)

This is why Portland passed on Drummond at 6. The Trail Blazers have the choice between Meyers Leonard and Tyler Zeller here at 11. A true center will allow LaMarcus Aldridge to play mostly at the 4 and add to their defense. Leonard gets the nod because he’s a rising prospect with better upside.

12. Milwaukee Bucks- C Tyler Zeller (North Carolina)

If Leonard is the upside pick, Zeller is the sure thing. He’s a 4 year player at a great program who improved every year. The Bucks don’t have a true center after trading Andrew Bogut for Monta Ellis. He’s not going to be a star, but he’s pretty safe and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t at least a solid rotational player.

13. Phoenix Suns- SG Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut)

Kendall Marshall is an option here as the Suns prepare for life without Steve Nash, which could start as soon as next season. However, they might not be able to pass on Jeremy Lamb, a top-10 prospect who falls because of circumstance. They definitely need depth on the wing, especially since Grant Hill will likely sign wherever Nash goes.

14. Houston Rockets- SF Perry Jones (Baylor)

The Rockets currently have picks 14, 16, and 18, so while they have needs, they can take best available here and focus on needs later. Perry Jones is a boom or bust player. He has top-5 talent, but he’s inconsistent and it’s unclear what type of player he’ll be at the next level and even what position he’ll play. The Rockets will take a chance on his upside and figure the rest out later with 3 picks in the top 18. He can play some small and power forward for them next year.

15. Philadelphia 76ers- PF Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)

Sullinger is slipping for medical reasons, but I think he’ll be the steal of the draft. Before the medical concerns surfaced, I thought he’d be a steal in the bottom half of the top 10. Now I think he’ll be a steal in the mid to late teens. He’s a proven player and a big time producer who has an NBA ready game. He might not be the best athlete or have the highest upside, but he can definitely be a starter. The 76ers need some more size and will have an immediate role for Sullinger.

Go on to 16-30

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The post that probably should have been 3: My thoughts on the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics

The Miami Heat were done. They were down 3-2 to an inferior Boston Celtics team that had simply outplayed them. LeBron had failed to score in the final 8 minutes of a close loss in Game 5 in a game that brought back memories of game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010. Same teams. Same situation. Same result, losing to an inferior team.

Except something happened. Something that hadn’t happened since LeBron’s game 5 failure in 2010. LeBron stopped caring what everyone thought. He stopped trying to be “unselfish” and went into “I’m the best basketball player on the planet and I know it mode.” That’s what we haven’t seen from LeBron in years. That’s what’s always frustrated me about him in the past 2 years. He left Cleveland to join one of his greatest rival’s team’s and let him remain the alpha-dog. He frequently passed in key situations. He started caring more about setting up his teammates than winning.

He became the bad kind of “unselfish,” the opposite of the good kind of “selfish” that Jordan was, what I call competitive selfish, an attitude where you want to win more than anything and if that means your teammates also win then so be it. Jordan was that kind of selfish. Brett Favre was that kind of selfish. LeBron used to be, but since 2010 he has been over-thinking everything.

In a way I don’t blame him. In this 24/7 news cycle, EVERYTHING he does is questioned. For years. Would Michael Jordan have started 2nd guessing himself in the same situation? Probably not. But we don’t know. For the past 2 games, however, LeBron stopped caring what everyone thought. He led. He took over games, big games. I don’t what exactly what happened. Maybe it was that kid yelling “good job, good effort” at him (if so can that kid be MVP?). Maybe it was the fact that Wade was struggling so he had no choice but to become “selfish” and take over. I don’t know what.

But LeBron hadn’t looked that good since 2007, when he brought a team that had absolutely no business being there to the finals on the strength of 25 straight scored in game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pistons. That team’s leaders in minutes played were LeBron, Larry Hughes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Drew Gooden, Sasha Pavlovic, and Donyell Marshall. Eric Snow started 45 games at point guard. They made the finals.

In Miami, he hadn’t played like that yet. In Miami there was always the temptation to be 1a to Dwyane Wade’s 1b even though LEBRON IS BETTER THAN HIM and the team is less efficient that way. For the past two games, he didn’t care about this being “Wade’s city” or about splitting the “alpha dog” role with Wade. He made Wade HIS sidekick because he’s the best player on the planet and that’s the way it should be.

If LeBron continues this in the Finals, they will win. If he doesn’t, they will lose because Kevin Durant is nearly as talented and knows his role. And that’s why these Finals will be so interesting. Can LeBron keep this up? Remember it’s only been 2 games, but he used to do this all the time in Cleveland because he had to. If he can, the Heat will win and LeBron will have EARNED his MVP and the title of best player in the league. If he can’t, Durant and the Thunder will win and Durant will have proved that he’s the best in the league. And the media scrutiny will be back on LeBron and rightfully so because everyone knows he CAN and probably SHOULD win this series.

Oh, and these finals might be a preview of a good percentage of the finals matchups in the next decade. Something tells me this isn’t the last time the Heat and Thunder will play in the NBA Finals. These Finals might get record ratings (insert joke about David Stern rigging them to go 7 games, although it’s not a joke because it’ll probably happen). When’s the last time we saw the league’s two unquestioned best players met in the finals? 1987? Maybe 1997-1998 (Jordan and Malone)?

And that brings up a better question. Who is the 3rd best player in the league? We know, unquestionably, who the two best are. Durant and LeBron. Put them in either order, fine, but argue that there’s a player in the league better than those two and you’re an idiot. However, who is #3? You can make arguments for so many different players, but you can also make counter arguments for all of them.

I raised this question on Twitter (@stevenlourie) a few days ago, mentioning Rondo in the tweet. I got these responses: Kobe, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Dirk Nowitzki, Derrick Rose. You could probably throw Tony Parker, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Love into that discussion without anyone looking at you funny. But look at the counter arguments you can make for all of these players.

Rajon Rondo- Has never averaged more than 13.7 points per game, 62% career free throw shooter, 24% three point shooter

Kobe- 34 in August, shot 43% last year, has never won without Phil Jackson

Dwight Howard- Frustrating flip flopper, had back surgery

Chris Paul- Never been out of the 2nd round, knee problems

Dirk Nowitzki- 34 this offseason, coming off a down statistical season

Derrick Rose- Torn ACL, might never be the same

Tony Parker- The Spurs almost traded him last offseason

Dwyane Wade- Currently on a milk carton in the greater Miami area

Russell Westbrook- 43% career shooter, doesn’t seem to understand how to play point guard yet (key word is yet. He’s only 23. I haven’t given up on him “getting it” yet)

Kevin Love- Doesn’t play any defense

I said Rondo because of how he played this post-season and because I think he’s turned a corner as a player. He is capable of both taking over a game offensively at any time and having a good game even when he’s not scoring and he can lock down anyone 6-6 or shorter defensively. This postseason he averaged 17.1 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, 11.8 assists per game, and 2.4 steals per game while being the best player on the same court as 5 future Hall of Famers (LeBron, Wade, Garnett, Pierce, Allen) for 5 games of the Eastern Conference Finals. As a Celtics fan, I’m incredibly excited to begin building around him and trying to delete everywhere I ever said we should trade him for Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat because it “gives us a better chance to win now.”

And that brings me to my next point. What’s next for the Celtics? As it’s been said eloquently before, the Celtics were in year 5 of a 3 year plan this season. Conventional wisdom suggests that this team should have been blown up 2 years ago, but after they made no moves at the trade deadline this team basically went into Eminem mode (I’m not even really supposed to be here right now, so fuck it, might as well make the most of it) and took the Heat to 7 games in the Conference Finals. Before game 7 I tweeted “win or lose, the 2012 Celtics have given absolutely everything they had this season.” They all played through injuries, even the coach Doc Rivers had a major back injury. They won at least 75% of the effort plays and gave 110% every single night. The Celtics played like there was no tomorrow because there wasn’t one.

Well now it’s tomorrow and the Celtics are at the crossroads they all saw coming. The 2012-2013 Celtics will either look different or incredibly different and there is no 3rd option. Ray Allen is a 37 year old free agent. Kevin Garnett is a 36 year old free agent. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo will have their names thrown in trade talks and even though I just said a few paragraphs ago that I was excited for the Celtics to build around him, the unbiased “stock trader” fan in me thinks it couldn’t hurt to see what they could get for Rondo if they sold high.

The good news for the Celtics is that their current payroll for 2012-2013 is 34.5 million so they basically have a blank state. They can probably resign Kevin Garnett somewhere around 30 million over 3 years and Brandon Bass has an option for 4 million which will probably be exercised. Allen will probably be let go because of the emergence of Avery Bradley. This means that the Celtics can actually bring back their starting 5 from the Philadelphia series at a payroll of around 49.5 million and 3 of the 5 would be under 30.

If they use their cap space and 2 1st round picks wisely, the 2012-2013 Boston Celtics will be a lot deeper than the 2011-2012 Boston Celtics were and they still have one of the best coaches in the business. The 2011-2012 Boston Celtics had Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels, Mikael Pietrus, Greg Sietsma, and Ryan Hollins as their bench guys, which meant that their over the hill starting lineup had to play way too many minutes, especially in the playoffs. They can add strong bench guys in free agency this offseason and I wouldn’t be opposed to Ray Allen being one of them at the right price. The Celtics can legitimately bring back their top 6 guys from a team that made it to game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals and still be under the cap.

Can’t a Garnett/Bass/Pierce/Bradley/Rondo starting 5 compete again in 2012-2013 if they add the right bench guys? They did this year without a strong bench and with Bradley missing the Eastern Conference Finals. The Spurs did it this year with a similar formula. A better bench will allow Garnett and Pierce to play fewer minutes and Bradley’s absence in the Heat series was not mentioned enough. Bradley was their best on ball perimeter defender and they played a team with two of the best perimeter scorers in the league. You can’t tell me that wasn’t a huge absence, probably even bigger than the Bosh absence for Miami because Bosh only missed 4 games.

However, unlike last year, they won’t have that “no tomorrow” feeling motivating them like they did this year. This is clearly the Heat and Thunder’s league right now. The Celtics will still only be a fringe contender in 2012-2013. And yes, I realize this probably should have been 3 posts, but this is my 1st NBA post since last year’s finals.

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