Looking to the Future: Mid-Season Mock Draft

Published: February 25, 2012

As we hit the midway point, we take a look at how the draft might shake out come June 28th

1. Charlotte Bobcats- Anthony Davis, Kentucky

Davis is far and away the most complete prospect in this year’s draft and he will be the first pick regardless of whose balls pop up. Charlotte has a potential Serge Ibaka type of player in Biyombo, but they will find a way to get both him and Davis on the court (and they would simply move Biyombo if they couldn’t). As Bobcats Beat Writer Spencer Percy points out, “the Bobcats would be extremely excited to put a front line on the floor that would include potential stars like Biyombo and Davis.

Hornets interest (If available): 10

The Hornets would jump all over Davis if they got the number one pick, and might try to put a package together for him if they don’t. Davis has franchise-changer potential and will be a stud from day one on the defensive end. The offense will take some time to develop, but he has a nice set of skills to work with. He played guard in high school prior to his growth spurt, and subsequently, he has better handles and a smoother J than most bigs his size.

2. Washington Wizards- Harrison Barnes, UNC

Washington will have a tough choice between Barnes and Drummond with this pick, and a lot of it will hinge on how they view Javale McGee’s future with the team, but I expect Barnes to be the pick. Barnes would give John Wall an elite wing scorer that would take the pressure off him offensively, allowing him to be more of a true point. Barnes is the most polished scorer in the draft and will be the odds on favorite for ROY if he lands in the right spot. As Wizards blogger John Townsend says, “All things considered, HB40 is a can’t miss prospect for Ted Leonsis & Co. — even with a new general manager guiding the rebuild, assuming that Leonsis asks current GM Ernie Grunfeld (on the last year of his contract) to kick rocks at season’s end.”

Hornets interest: 4

The Hornets could definitely use an upgrade scoring-wise on the wing, but Barnes does not do the little things that Dell and Monty seem to fall in love with. If his shot isn’t falling, he doesn’t really do much else for the team. If all of the bigs that the Hornets are interested are gone and Barnes is on the board, maybe they take best player available, but it’s a long shot.

3. New Orleans Hornets- Thomas Robinson, Kansas

Robinson is perhaps the most NBA ready big in the draft, with the potential to put up Kevin Love type numbers down the line. Robinson has been a beast on the boards this year, grabbing 12 per game in just 31 minutes, which is actually slightly down from his rebound per minute rate from last year (6.4 in 15 mins.). Robinson is non-stop hustle, with a high basketball IQ, and a tremendous amount of upside. He won’t have the defensive impact that Davis will, but he is leaps and bounds ahead of Davis offensively and he could give Eric Gordon a tremendous pick and role partner for the next ten years.

Hornets interest: 9.9 

Will be #2 on Hornets draft board barring something unforseen happening.

4. Orlando Magic (via NJ) – Andre Drummond, UConn

I am going to be bold here and say that Dwight is sent to New Jersey on March 14th for a package that includes Lopez, Brooks, and a couple of picks. This will be the first pick the Magic make in the post-Dwight era and they will use it on the guy who has the potential to be the next Dwight Howard. Drummond has all the potential in the world, but has yet to truly dominate for any significant stretch of time in his freshman season. A breakout performance in the Big East tourney or the NCAA’s, however, could catapault Drummond up to #2.

Hornets interest: 7

Drummond is the best center prospect in this draft (by far) and if he hits his potential, every team that passed on him will regret it. That said, he also has huge bust potential and Demps seems like the type of GM who will take a sure double over a guy who could be a home run or a strikeout. The X factor here is Gustavo Ayon. If Ayon shows that he is the Hornets PF of the future, need could trump everything and Drummond could become a Hornet.

5. Toronto Raptors- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky

Raptors coach Dwayne Casey inherited a Raptors team that is attrocious defensively and his primary objective will be to get some hard-working, high-intangible, defensive minded players on his roster. MKG checks all three boxes. Gilchrist looks a lot like a young Shawn Marion, and Casey was part of the Mavericks 2010 coaching staff that used Marion so efficiently in their championship run. Gilchrist would slide into the starting line-up from day one, and might be the team captain on day tw0.

Hornets interest- 9

MKG should be the highest rated wing player on the Hornets board this June due to everything I mentioned above. Getting one of the bigs will be a higher priority because the Hornets currently have Ariza and Aminu on the roster, but if Ayon proves himself and somebody knocks the Hornets over with a trade offer for Ariza, we could see MKG in those ugly Mardi Gras uni’s next year!

6. Detroit Pistons- Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

The Pistons luck out in this mock draft and grab the perfect player to play high-post, low-post with Greg Monroe. Sullinger and Monroe might not be the most devestating defensive combo, but offensively they would wreck havoc due to their versatility. Bradley Beal would be another possibility here if they want to transition Stuckey to a 6th man role, but in this scenario, Sullinger would be the likely pick.

Hornets interest: 9 (Schwan interest: 10000)

Sullinger would probably rank third on the Hornets board because of he is one of the few known quantities in this draft. Sullinger doesn’t have the ceiling of the guys drafted ahead of him, but he will be a quality scorer in this league that won’t give you any headaches off the court.

7. Sacramento Kings- Perry Jones III

I know, I know, you are asking “Why not add another shooting guard? They only have 25 of them!” But I have faith that the Kings will be able to resist the urge to grab Bradley Beal or Jeremy Lamb this time around, in favor of a big to pair with Cousins. Jones is raw, but athletic and he would fit in nicely on a team that could push the pace. He also would fit with Cousins on both sides of the ball; as a weakside shot-blocker on defense and a garbage man on the offensive end.

Hornets interest: 2

Maybe if Jones was available with their second pick, the Hornets would give him so though, but he is just too raw and inconsistant for the Hornets to consider with their first pick.

8. Milwaukee Bucks- Bradley Beal, UF

Beal would pair with Jennings to give the Bucks a deadly backcourt combo that would rival any in the Eastern Conference. He is a deadly shooter who can also get to the rim, and reminds a lot of scouts of Allen Houston. He also is an above average defender and rebounder for his size, and can run an offense- which would allow Jennings to play more off the ball.

Hornets interest- 4

Again, if he is available with the second pick the Hornets might consider him, but they aren’t going to spend a top pick on a guy who does not fill a need. But then again, if the Hornets hear from EG10 that he has no desire to come back…

9. Phoenix Suns- Austin Rivers, Duke

Call me crazy, but I think the Suns will see a guy that could become the next Steve Nash in Austin Rivers. Nas was by no means a pure point coming out of college, and Rivers also has a long way to go in that respect, but he is smart, athletic, and can flat out score. I can see the Suns taking Rivers and actually bring Nash back for two more years to tutor him, in an ideal scenario for the team. They get to keep the guy who will puts butts in the seats, while simoultaneously mentoring a guy to replace him.

Hornets interest- 6

If he is around with their second pick, the Hornets should jump all over Rivers and turn him into an electric 6th man that changes the game when he enters. Monty would use him the same way that his mentor used Manu early in his career.

10. Cleveland Cavaliers- Jeremy Lamb, UConn

The Cavs have the same blessing and curse that fell upon the Hornets in Chris Paul’s rookie year. They are blessed with a uniquely gifted point guard that should be among the best in the league for years to come, but cursed by the fact that he has made them too good too early, thereby knocking them out of top-5 pick range. Luckily for Cleveland, however, this draft is deeper than the one in 2006, and because of that the Cavs can still get a good player at the end of the lottery. Lamb will give them a pure scorer that will take the pressure off Irving and give the Cleveland fans hope once again.

Hornets interest- 4

See Bradley Beal.

11. Utah (via GS) – Terrance Ross, Wahington

Utah could use an athletic wing to replace Josh Howard and CJ Miles after they leave this off-season and Ross fits the bill. He can get out in transition and fill the lanes, while also playing good defense, and he has a developing outside shot. Hayward and Alec Burks are both better two guards at this point, and Ross would be able to come in and be a full-time SF, which is probably his natural NBA position.

Hornets interest: 6

Ross could be a guy that the Hornets target with the Minny pick if they don’t see Aminu in their future plans. High basketball IQ and intangibles to go along with his athletic skills means he will be a guy both Demps and Monty will like. It just comes down to a matter of need.

12. Utah- Kendall Marshall, UNC

The Jazz have a plethera of talented bigs and wings, but they need somebody to get those guys the ball, and Marshall definitely fits that bill. He is currently second in the nation in assists, averaging 9.8 per game and he is just as dangerous in the half-court as he is in the open court. Marshall would instantly become a fan favorite in Utah and could be the starting PG by 2013, as the Jazz say goodbye to Devin Harris.

Hornets interest: 6

The Hornets need a point guard, but ideally they would find one who would fit better with Eric Gordon. Gordon is great in the pick and roll and needs the ball in his hands quite a bit to be the best version of himself, so ideally the Hornets would find a point guard who can play off the ball and hit the three. Those are not Marshall’s strong suits. However, if Gordon is not in the plans, Marshall would be the ideal point guard for this team moving forward.

13. Hornets- Cody Zeller, Indiana

The Hornets grab their power forward of the future with the first pick and their center of the future with the second pick. Zeller is rail-thin right now and would get manhandled by NBA centers, but once he adds some bulk, he will be a nightmare matchup for most bigs in the league. He runs the floor like a guard and can use both hands around the basket. He also has wonderful timing when it comes to blocking shots, and solid fundamentals that helps him on the glass. He shows enough range early in his career to project him as an above average outside shooter, and he is also a willing passer. A more athletic Spencer Hawes is the most likely comparison.

Other possibilities: Damian Lillard, John Henson, Terrence Jones, Tony Wroten, Jr.

Looking to the Future is a weekly column that runs every Saturday only on Hornets247.com. For past columns, click here.


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