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2012 NBA Mock Draft V5.0: Picks 16-23

The 2012 NBA Draft is just a day away and, without a doubt, the biggest story thus far has been the Houston Rockets’ endless quest to gather bargaining chips.

What began as two mid-first round picks has now become three top-20 picks, plus a clear-cut willingness to trade just about everyone currently on their roster. The endgame here is obvious – Houston wants to get as many picks as possible, and then make the Orlando Magic an offer they can’t refuse for Dwight Howard.

But what if Orlando doesn’t want to do business?

Well, that’s where things get murky.

There has been some speculation that if they can’t get Dwight, the Rockets will look into possibly doing one of the following two deals: 1.) something for Josh Smith or 2.) something to move into the top five so that they can get Andre Drummond or Damian Lillard (that last one is via Matt Moore).

We’ll have to wait and see what happens as far as Houston goes.

Beyond the Rockets, there hasn’t been much going on with teams selecting in the Nos. 16-23 range. Just to recap, here are the teams picking in this portion of the proceedings: Houston, Dallas Mavericks, Houston (again), Orlando Magic, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics, Boston Celtics (again) and Atlanta Hawks.

The Mavericks are obviously in the hunt for Deron Williams; however, outside of that, the only deal they’ve been linked to is one that would send Lamar Odom to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Magic are obviously talking about possible moves for Dwight and figuring out their management/coaching situation. The Nuggets are reportedly willing to trade away some pieces for a higher draft pick, but so far nobody has taken the bait. The Celtics are still trying to figure out what they want to do with themselves this summer. And the Hawks…well, they’re as confused as ever.

Here are some of the more interesting storylines to keep an eye on in this segment of the proceedings: do the Rockets keep the two picks they have here? Does a top-20 team pull the trigger on Jared Sullinger? How do the Celtics maximize value with their back-to-back selections? Will the Nuggets be able to move up? How will the hunt for Williams impact Dallas’ pick?

We analyze all that and more in our preview of picks Nos. 16-23.

[You can check out picks 24-30 here]

[You can check out picks 8-15 here]

[You can check out picks 1-7 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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