LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 3: Anthony Davis #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats reaches for a rebound against Reggie Bullock #35 of the North Carolina Tar Heels at Rupp Arena on December 3, 2011 in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 73-72. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
The time has come. Tonight is the night. At 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, David Stern will walk up to the podium to begin the craze that is the 2012 NBA draft. There is a lock at the number one pick with Anthony Davis. Besides Davis and the New Orleans Hornets, there is no chalk.
There are a ton of rumblings with the number two pick. Charlotte is looking to trade it as there is no clear choice at number two. The Wizards seem content at three after last week’s trade for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. Another pre-draft trade happened Tuesday morning when the Rockets collected another mid-first round pick in order to stockpile pick for a chance at Dwight Howard or another star in the league. In return for the eighteenth, the Timberwolves received sharpshooter Chase Budinger. A lot of drafts in the past several years have seen a multitude of international players, but this year is an exception with a weak international crop and a strong college crop.
On Wednesday, the Rockets continued to be active when they traded the fourteenth pick and center Samuel Dalembert for the twelfth pick and three players.
(Editors note: if any trades happen between the morning and mid-afternoon, the mock draft will be tinkered with before the beginning of the draft!)
Highlighted in the draft is the horde of players from Kentucky and North Carolina. Both teams are expected to have four (or more in the case of Kentucky) players drafted in the first round each, including two of the top five picks for Kentucky.
Trades will happen and surprises will occur. While we can’t truly predict it, we try!
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Davis is the best big man to come out of college since Greg Oden. His play at the defensive end is unseen in this day and age. He is a true cornerstone to a franchise and will be huge in the rebuilding process for the Hornets with new ownership.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
Rumor has it that the number two pick will be moved on draft day. The obvious trade would be to Cleveland for the fourth pick and the twenty-fourth pick. If the Bobcats decide to keep the big, they could take any of four players (Robinson, Beal, Drummond, Barnes)
3. Washington Wizard: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, Florida
5. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, Connecticut
Drummond is this year’s athletic big that will go in the top few picks. The center did not do much at UCONN his freshman year, but scouts still salivate over Drummond because of the potential. Here’s a direct quote from Jonathon Wasserman: "Physically gifted, Drummond's combination of size, power, mobility, athleticism and explosiveness is unparalleled at the college level."
6. Portland Trail Blazers: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
7. Golden State Warriors: Meyers Leonard, Illinois
8. Toronto Raptors: Dion Waiters, Syracuse
9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson, North Carolina
After a strong workout on Monday with a wide range of big men, Henson is likely to be the favorite for the Pistons at nine. Henson is an old-school type of player and could play center and allow Greg Monroe to return to power forward.
10. New Orleans Hornets: Austin Rivers, Duke
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard, Weber State
There is a decent chance that Portland doesn’t wait until its second of two lottery picks to snag Lillard. Lillard is a scoring point guard that the Blazers really like.
12. Houston Rockets: Perry Jones, Baylor
The Rockets have been so active leading up to the draft that I expect more deals to happen for Houston before the end of Thursday.
13. Phoenix Suns: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
14. Milwaukee Bucks: Terrance Ross, Washington
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
16. Houston Rockets: Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
The Rockets have two out of three picks in the mid-teens. Houston already has a deep team, but they are looking to move pieces around in order to acquire a cornerstone to their franchise. Taking Moultrie and Ross would be a dream scenario for the Rockets. Both players have had their names in the top ten in mock drafts.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Marshall is a complete floor general. The obvious comparison to Andre Miller has been linked. With the Mavericks need of point guard with Jason Kidd’s age, Marshall could fit in well.
18. Houston Rocketss: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
The second Big Ten player! Sullinger has slipped on all draft boards and is unlikely to see an invite to Thursday’s draft ‘Green Room’. The Rockets should have no problem with taking a risk with Sully.
19. Orlando Magic: Doron Lamb, Kentucky
20. Denver Nuggets: Terrance Jones, Kentucky
21. Boston Celtics: Royce White, Iowa State
White is among my personal favorite on my draft board. He is a point forward that can do a lot on the court, which he proved in his one season at Iowa State. The issue remains mentally for White, but if that can subside, White can do well in the NBA.
22. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
23. Atlanta Hawks: Moe Harkless, St. Johns
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Fab Melo, Syracuse
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Marquis Teague, Kentucky
Of all the prospects in this year’s draft, none was a bigger surprise to come out than Teague. He was the fifth or sixth option at times for Kentucky and never really produced for them. Teague came out of high school as the top prospect for Kentucky, but didn’t show it during his freshman year. While another year would have helped Teague, playing behind Mike Conley Jr. won’t hurt.
26. Indiana Pacers: Tony Wroten, Washington
27. Miami Heat: Draymond Green, Michigan State
This is the dream scenario for both parties. Green will get playing time, and he should do well in Miami’s system.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
29. Chicago Bulls: Will Barton, Memphis
30. Golden State Warriors: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt