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2012 NBA Mock Draft V5.0: Picks 1-7

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With the 2012 NBA Draft only days away, there has been a very noticeable shift in talking points as of late.

Whereas in the early going most of the conversations pertaining to this draft related to analyzing prospects and determining where the best fit for them would be, now most of the talk is based on potential trades. Trying to move up, trying to move down, trying to package picks, trying to trade picks for proven players – all that and more has dominated the headlines over these last couple of weeks.

Part of this can be attributed to the fact that there is only so much scouting you can do. After a while, you fully understand what a given player’s strengths and weaknesses are to the maximum degree. Once you’re at that juncture, researching just for the sake of researching is futile. The other part of it, however, can be attributed to the NBA postseason wrapping up and teams determining what the future holds for them. After all, when a year ends, it's reflection time for GMs; is their team close enough to a title to justify making a big move, or is time to rebuild via the draft?

The squads holding the top seven picks in this year's proceedings are as follows: New Orleans Hornets, Charlotte Bobcats, Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors. Of that lineup, only the Hornets’ selection of Anthony Davis is etched in stone. Beyond that, anything could happen.

We also know that Thomas Robinson, Bradley Beal, Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes and Andre Drummond will accompany Davis in the top six – but we don’t know what the order will be.

Charlotte, at the outset, made it no secret that it was willing to shop the No. 2 pick; unfortunately, Michael Jordan couldn’t find any willing parties to swap places with him. There were some murmurs about the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder being interested, but nothing ever materialized. There has also been a bit of talk in recent days about the Bobcats perhaps looking into Barnes, but the general consensus is that not even M.J. is crazy enough to jump the likes of Robinson and Beal for a guy who many aren’t sure is even worth a top-five pick.

As always, here are a few of the storylines to think about as it pertains to the first seven spots: does Robinson’s status as the consensus No. 2 survive three more days? Will the Bobcats be able to swing a last-minute deal for their selection? Do the Wizards take Beal at No. 3, like most figured they would in the aftermath of last week’s trade? Is Barnes really held in as high of esteem as it appears, or is he just benefiting from a lot of teams’ bluffs? How far do two former candidates for the No. 2 overall pick, Kidd-Gilchrist and Drummond, fall?

We analyze all that and more in our final projections for picks Nos. 1-7.

[You can check out picks 8-15 here]

[You can check out picks 16-23 here]

[You can check out picks 24-30 here]

Note: And make sure to tune into The Bottom Line Sports Show as they talk all things NBA and NBA Draft.

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