Published June 01, 2012
| Sports Network
New York, NY – Donnie Walsh, the former basketball chief in Indiana and New York, hated the NBA Draft Lottery, once calling it "a convention of losers."
Walsh, a competitive guy, always hated being in North Jersey (now Times Square) for the lottery because it meant he wasn't doing his job and instead of basking in the excitement of sold out arenas for playoff games, it was all about a television studio and a bunch of ping-pong balls.
In fact, nothing has been more aptly titled than the NBA Draft Lottery.
Just like some ham-and-egger that spent the last of his paycheck on a Mega- Millions ticket, bad NBA teams gather, bring lucky trinkets or in the case of Dan Gilbert, his neurofibromatosis-afflicted son, and hope things turn out for the best.
Sure a cognizant, well-designed plan, implemented over a number of years by well-respected basketball people is probably a better option than hoping your number comes up but that takes time and in our short-attention-span culture, that's the one thing few teams have.
It's compete now or play in front of an uncaring fan base in sparsely filled arenas.
All that said, "losers" also has a second definition when discussing the NBA Draft Lottery -- the conspiracy crowd.
It started with Patrick Ewing and the now infamous "dinged envelope" and morphed into David Stern's benevolent corruptness last year when he "awarded" the No. 1 overall pick to Cleveland because the city lost LeBron James and Nick Gilbert looked like a better storyline than Timberwolves' kingpin David Kahn.
The beauty of any conspiracy is that you can mold the story to fit the facts, although the facts have to come first. This year, all the wannabe Oliver Stones were convinced the league wanted Dwight Howard in Brooklyn and made the rookie mistake of theorizing the conspiracy without the benefit of 20-20 hindsight.
When the Nets failed to jump up, actually losing their lottery pick in the process, and New Orleans did, the conspiracy became the NBA-owned Hornets got Tom Benson to agree to buy the franchise by promising the No. 1 overall pick to him, as if Kentucky's Anthony Davis is the second-coming of James and will save basketball in the Big Easy.
To some there will always be a second shooter on the grassy knoll or in Seinfeld parlance, a second spitter on the gravely road.
For the lucid of us who assume Stern doesn't commit federal crimes on national television, we understand Occam's razor and the ping-pong ball came up NOLA.
So with that in the rear-view mirror, it's time to take a look at The Sports Network's 2012 NBA Mock Draft, version 1.0:
1. - New Orleans Hornets - Anthony Davis (Kentucky), power forward (6-10, 220) - The Hornets moved up from the fourth spot to land the first overall pick, a no-brainer in Davis, a player that is regarded as the only can't miss prospect in this year's draft. The "Unibrow" will enter the NBA as an elite defender and shot blocker who still has a long way to go offensively. He has skills however, since he spent most of his youth playing on the perimeter before a massive growth spurt in high school.
"I'm not well versed in college players because I'm always watching game film, but I've watched a few guys because of our positioning," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "I've said it before, but I don't see LeBron [James], I don't see a Tim [Duncan], but a lot of these guys are younger than Tim was when he came into the league. They have the potential to develop into those guys. It's one of those things where now we know where we're going to be, so we can target the guys we want."
2 - Charlotte Bobcats - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky), small forward (6-7, 215) - The worst season in NBA history will net the Bobcats Davis' teammate with the Wildcats, Kidd-Gilchrist. A Somerdale, NJ native, Kidd- Gilchrist is a strong, athletic wing player who possesses a high basketball IQ and projects as a lockdown defender. He should team with Kemba Walker to inject some life into Queen City basketball again.
"Obviously, everyone wants the number one pick," Bobcats GM Rich Cho said. "We know we're going to get a good player at number two. Last time I was with a team that had number two, we were able to get Kevin Durant. So, we'll go from here and hopefully find the right player for us."
3.- Washington Wizards - Andre Drummond (UConn), center (6-11, 270) - The Wizards have the first big decision in the draft -- go big or take Florida's Bradley Beal to team with John Wall. NBA scouts have fallen in love with Beal but he and Wall are just too similar, meaning the Wiz will go with Drummond, probably the biggest boom or bust prospect in this year's draft. The physical gifts are certainly there with Drummond, who has the size, power and athleticism to excel, especially as a defender, but former UConn bust Hasheem Thabeet is fresh in everyone's mind.
4. - Cleveland Cavaliers - Bradley Beal (Florida), shooting guard (6-4, 210) - If things shake out like this the Cavs will leap at Beal and secure their backcourt for the next decade. Beal, a smooth shooter who can also get to the rim, is the perfect compliment to Kyrie Irving.
5. - Sacramento Kings - Thomas Robinson (Kansas), power forward (6-8, 240) - Robinson is the rare college player that will arrive in the pros with an NBA- ready body. He doesn't have the height teams covet these days but the wingspan is there and the Kansas product is a high-energy player that brings a lunch pail mentality to the dance.
6. - Portland Trail Blazers - Harrison Barnes (North Carolina), small forward (6-8, 220) - Billy King is a nice man but he got fleeced by Portland for this pick and the Blazers will likely go with Barnes, a natural NBA small forward who can team with LaMarcus Aldridge in Rip City. Harrison is a good spot-up jump shooter who could excel in the often forgotten about mid-range game and flash out to the three-point line.
7. - Golden State Warriors - Kendall Marshall (North Carolina), point guard (6-4, 197) - With Monta Ellis gone, it's time to get Mark Jackson that legitimate point guard and Marshall projects as the best of this year's bunch since Weber State's Damian Lillard was more of a scorer in the Big Sky. Marshall is a natural floor leader that understands how to control the flow of a game. In fact, his game has been compared with Jackson's and he could enable the coach to play Stephen Curry off the ball more.
8. - Toronto Raptors - Jeremy Lamb (UConn), shooting guard (6-5, 190) - Toronto needs offense and Lamb has a major upside as a scorer but is slight and needs to develop a more consistent work ethic.
9. - Detroit Pistons - John Henson (North Carolina), power forward (6-10, 220) - The Pistons should be in a nice spot to find a power forward to team up with ascending young center Greg Monroe. Ohio State's Jared Sullinger would be the safest pick while Baylor's Perry Jones probably has the biggest upside. In the end, Joe Dumars will hedge his bets with Carolina's Henson, a slight guy with a major league defensive presence. There is no question that Henson needs to add strength but he can destroy half-court sets with a 7-foot-4 wingspan.
10. - New Orleans Hornets - Damian Lillard (Weber State), point guard (6-2, 195) - Adding Lillard to Davis in the Big Easy would make a lot of sense. Although not a true point guard since he scored so much in college, Lillard's skills and frame are tailor-made for running a team.
11. - Portland Trail Blazers - Perry Jones (Baylor), power forward (6-10, 240) - Early on Jones was considered a possible No. 1 overall pick so the skills are there but he never produced consistently at Baylor, scaring a number of teams off. He's certainly worth a flyer here, however, as a team's second lottery pick.
"We need winners," Blazers swingman Wesley Matthews said. "People who are tough. People who don't like losing. Players who, if they lose a shooting drill, they lose their minds. Guys that play with a lot of heart and are unselfish. Guys that will sacrifice personal stuff for the team."
12. - Milwaukee Bucks - Tyler Zeller (North Carolina), center (7-foot, 240) - With Andrew Bogut gone, Milwaukee should go with Zeller, a player who moves well for his size, although needs to add strength so he can hold up on the blocks at the defensive end.
13. - Phoenix Suns - Terrence Ross (Washington), shooting guard (6-6, 200) - A hybrid wing player with terrific length and a high motor, Ross could fit in nicely as the Suns' replacement for Grant Hill.
14. - Houston Rockets - Terrence Jones (Kentucky), small forward (6-8, 245) - A powerfully built small forward, Jones took a back seat to Davis and Kidd- Gilchrist on an ultra-talented Kentucky team. Despite his size, Jones relies too much on the jumper and should consider attacking the basket more.
"There's a lot of talent out there, a lot of great players," Rockets forward Chandler Parsons said. "We have a great staff that's doing a lot of research, so I'm very confident that they're going to take the best available player."
15. - Philadelphia 76ers - Jared Sullinger (Ohio State), power forward (6-8, 260) - With Elton Brand on his last legs, Sullinger would be a perfect fit in South Philly.
16. - Houston Rockets - Dion Waiters (Syracuse), shooting guard (6-5, 215) - Waiters is a nice insurance policy for the oft-injured Kevin Martin.
17. - Dallas Mavericks - Meyers Leonard (Illinois), center (7-0, 245) - The Mavs made a big mistake by not bringing back Tyson Chandler last season and need to start addressing that hole in the middle.
18. - Minnesota Timberwolves - Arnett Moultrie (Mississippi State), power forward (6-10, 235) - Moultrie is the kind of big body who could help take some of the pounding and pressure off Kevin Love.
19. - Orlando Magic - Austin Rivers (Duke), combo guard (6-4, 203) - So much of what Orlando does will be tied to the new general manger and what he decides to do with Dwight Howard. For this exercise, let's go with the best player available and at this stage, that would be Doc Rivers' kid Austin, a nice-sized combo guard who figures to fit into any team's rotation very early in his career.
20. - Denver Nuggets - Moe Harkless (St. John's), small forward (6-8, 220) - Harkless is the type of player George Karl loves, a lengthy guy who projects well as a defender at three positions if he adds a little strength.
21. - Boston Celtics - Royce White (Iowa State), power forward (6-8, 250) - If you have watched the playoffs, you know that the C's are paper-thin and need to address multiple positions with back-to-back picks. At 21, White is a steal, a lottery-level talent that needs time to develop his offensive game.
22. - Boston Celtics - Fab Melo (Syracuse), center (7-foot, 255) - Boston hasn't had a legitimate center since shipping Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City and Melo could be the answer, projecting as a Perkins-type player, limited offensively but solid as a defender.
23. - Atlanta Hawks - Jeffrey Taylor (Vanderbilt), small forward (6-7, 230) - Josh Smith wants out of the ATL so securing a small forward with some upside would be a prudent move for the Hawks,
24. - Cleveland Cavaliers - Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure), power forward (6-9, 225) - With Antawn Jamison likely out in the Forest City, Nicholson could slip in as an option who could gain major minutes early thanks to a high basketball IQ.
25. - Memphis Grizzlies - Marquis Teague (Kentucky), point guard (6-2, 190) - At this stage, talented teams like Memphis are looking for depth and Teague could be a nice 10-to-15 minute option to run things in Mike Conley's stead.
26. - Indiana Pacers - Doron Lamb (Kentucky), combo guard (6-4, 200) - Lamb's regarded as a tweener who can give you minutes at either guard position but would get exposed with major minutes.
27. - Miami Heat - Draymond Green (Michigan State), combo forward (6-6, 235) - Miami, more than any other team, tends to disregard traditional positions and looks for basketball players, especially on the wings. Green can contribute across the board and stretch the floor with his three-point shooting.
28. - Oklahoma City Thunder - Quincy Miller (Baylor), small forward (6-9, 210) - The slight Miller has a wingspan of well over 7-feet and the Thunder love lengthy players that create headaches on defense.
29. - Chicago Bulls - Kevin Jones (West Virginia), power forward (6-8, 250) - Jones is a wide body who would fit in nicely in a Chicago frontcourt that dominated the boards when healthy.
30. - Golden State Warriors - Evan Fournier (France), small forward (6-6, 190) - Fournier is a very crafty player who might give Golden State an interesting scoring option as a contrast to pure shooters like Curry and Klay Thompson.