The 2012 NBA Draft is Thursday night. Both the Orlando Magic and world champion Miami Heat have first-round picks in this year's draft. With the top picks in the draft easier to project, mock drafts make the later picks in the first round a more interesting exercise in reading tea leaves.
SB Nation's NBA bloggers took a stab at projections in a Monday mock draft that appeared on SB Nation.
The Orlando Magic, with the 19th pick, opt for Kendall Marshall, a North Carolina point guard. Here is the pick as explained by Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post:
The Magic have just one point guard with a guaranteed contract for 2012-13: Chris Duhon, who's proven not to be worth playing major minutes at the NBA level. Even if Jameer Nelson returns, the Magic need a young point guard whom they can groom to one day replace Nelson, who'll turn 31 in February, as Nelson continues his natural devolution into latter-years Mike Bibby.
Marshall is, by all accounts, the best pure point guard in the draft. His ability to run an offense is unparalleled in this class. His poor scoring and defensive instincts scarcely matter to a Magic team low on young talent and on distributors.
Kendall Marshall is Orlando's man.
The Heat are picking a little further down the list at No. 27. Diego Quezada of Peninsula Is Mightier has the Heat going with Festus Ezeli, a center from Vanderbilt.
The Miami Heat should simply draft the best big man available on June 28. Miami was fortunate to have Shane Battier defend David West and Brandon Bass, and LeBron James played more of the four when Chris Bosh went down this postseason. But Pat Riley would have to admit that Dexter Pittman, Eddy Curry and Juwan Howard aren't going to produce much of anything. Moreover, Udonis Haslem struggled with his shot all year long and has regressed in the wake of the season-ending foot injury he sustained during the 2010-11 season.
I don't anticipate that Fab Melo -- an athletic seven footer -- will be available at 27, so Miami should select Festus Ezeli out of Vanderbilt. He's far from ideal -- the biggest red flag is that he ranked in the bottom third among centers for defensive rebounds per-40 minutes according to Draft Express. Ezeli does have a 6'11, 255-pound frame and can catch and finish at the rim, though. Bosh played the five effectively in the Finals, and Miami will still have Haslem and Joel Anthony under contract (Ronny Turiaf has a player option next season, and he will probably opt-in). In that case, the Heat should just try to find someone who can play for a few minutes if someone gets hurt and then be ready to contribute in a couple years. Although he won't be the panacea for the Heat, Ezeli be a good pick-up at the end of the first round.
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