NBA Draft 2012: 5 Biggest Mistakes of Round 1
Maybe it's the fact that this is as close as we'll get to NBA basketball for the next four-plus months (save for the false hopes coming from the glorious mirage that is the NBA Summer League).
Maybe it's that we've all invested hours upon hours following, studying and scouting 18-to-22-year-olds (no offense, Bernard James), then projecting how well they'll shine on basketball's brightest stage.
Or perhaps it's the fact that professional scouts, executives and general managers have about as good of a track record of finding talent as you or I.
There's just something intoxicating about David Stern's slow walk to the podium, holding the fate of basketball's bottom-feeders in his hands.
Franchises will be changed tonight. Some for the better; probably more for the worse.
With all of the positives that will come out of this draft, here are the five biggest disappointments of the opening round.
5. The Houston Rockets' Collection of Picks Gets Them...Three Rookies?
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There are so many variables that impact how a team will draft that war rooms can be torn apart searching for a franchise's plan "E" or even plan "J."
When the Houston Rockets set their sights on Dwight Howard, (plan "A"), then Rudy Gay or Josh Smith (presumably plans "B" and "C"), they began piling draft picks like Powerball tickets hoping to find the winning combination.
They found some desirable pieces (picks 12, 16 and 18), but could not find a trading partner.
Their desired draft pick was held by Sacramento at No. 5, but when Thomas Robinson fell in their laps, that plan was nixed. They were also rumored to be interested in the No. 7 pick held by Golden State, but those talks fell apart when Harrison Barnes slid past the top six picks.
The Rockets did not disappoint with their draft picks, as they found great potential in Jeremy Lamb (12th), Royce White (16th) and Terrence Jones (18th). But this is clearly not what general manager Daryl Morey had in mind.
Houston's roster is now a jumbled mess of veteran pieces that could make a good team great (Kevin Martin, Luis Scola) and a collection of young players that seem to spell at least the "R-E-B-U" in rebuilding.
Oh, and the icing on the cake is the way their trade talks alienated rising point guard (and arguably the most talented player on the roster) Kyle Lowry.
Perhaps Morey, like most of us, got too caught up in jackpot dreams to realize the terrible odds when playing the lottery.
4. Milwaukee Bucks Forgot Who's on Their Roster
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How can it be a mistake to draft a player widely regarded as a Top 10 option when picking outside of the Top 10?
When you already have that player on your roster.
And have a few of them at that.
John Henson enjoyed a prolific career at North Carolina, posting nearly 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks as a junior last season.
The Bucks may break the gas pedal next year, with speedsters Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis leading the herd. So naturally, they would want players who could complement that up-tempo play.
But they seem to forget that Ekpe Udoh (an athletic shot-blocker with limited offense) was included in the Ellis-for-Andrew Bogut swap.
Or that they acquired Samuel Dalembert (an athletic shot-blocker with limited offense) from Houston on Wednesday.
Or even that they invested the 15th pick in last year's draft in Larry Sanders (an athletic shot-blocker with limited offense).
They could've bolstered their wing with do-it-all small forward Maurice Harkless (15th pick). They could've looked for post offense with Jared Sullinger (21st pick). Or perhaps a versatile play-maker in Royce White (16th).
Instead, they opted for Henson (an athletic shot-blocker with limited offense).
3. Larry Bird Stuck Around for Miles Plumlee?
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Larry "Legend" had a tremendous run as President of Basketball Operations for the Indiana Pacers, culminating in his Executive of the Year Award and Indiana's three seed in the Eastern Conference this season.
But after Bird announced he was leaving the organization earlier this week, he bolstered the hopes of Pacer fans when he announced he'd stick around for the draft.
Indiana appeared in good hands, as Bird had found plenty of draft gems lately, including Paul George (10th pick in 2010), Roy Hibbert (17th pick in 2008, acquired in a draft-day trade from Toronto) and Danny Granger (17th pick in 2005).
So forgive Pacer fans for letting the expletives fly like they were Mike Miller three-pointers in the moments that followed Stern's announcement of Plumlee as the 26th pick.
Even the "Legends" don't always get it right.
In his defense, Plumlee excited scouts when he exhibited a freakish 41-inch leap at the combine.
But it's hard to dismiss his four-year career averages of 4.8 points and 4.8 rebounds.
It's even harder to question any move that Bird makes. But he really didn't leave me any choice.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers Reach for Collegiate Sixth Man, Dion Waiters
While the first three picks lacked the shock value that many experts predicted, the Cavaliers dropped the first bomb selecting Syracuse sixth man Dion Waiters with the fourth pick.
Unfortunately, for a franchise obviously still reeling from LeBron James' departure, they dropped the ball in the process.
Waiters jumped mock drafts (and apparently draft boards) faster than Jared Sullinger plunged down them.
Scouts loved Waiters' ability to use his frame (6'4", 221 lbs.) to penetrate defenses and finish around the basket, specifically on the fast-break. He's also proven to be one of college basketball's more reliable perimeter defenders in this draft class.
But it's hard not to question how he fits alongside Cleveland's reigning Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving.
Waiters struggled in workouts when forced to play in the half-court, especially against talented defenses. Workouts are a great way to gauge a player's ability to compete, but those defenders he struggled against might be the worst defenders he'll face for years as he gets ready to enter the NBA.
Cleveland's roster was a mess last season, and that only compounded with the retirement of their starting shooting guard, Anthony Parker, and the likely loss of their starting power forward, free agent Antawn Jamison.
Cleveland needed a home run here. This looks like more of a check-swing single.
1. Charlotte Bobcats Raise Ceiling To...2009-10 Charlotte Bobcats?
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After posting an all-time league-worst winning percentage (a paltry .106), the Bobcats need a lot of help.
For Bobcat fans (yes, both of them) looking for a silver lining after last year's disaster, there was the potential "stardom" of volume-scorer Kemba Walker and the fact that they just posted the all-time league-best losing percentage.
Baby steps, folks.
But despite stuffing ping-pong balls on lottery night like they were election ballots in Florida, the Bobcats landed the second selection in a draft with one sure thing (Anthony Davis).
Needless to say, they were desperate to move the pick.
But with the meager offerings they received, combined with their instance of the inclusion of Tyrus Thomas (and the $26 million still owed to him) in any deal, the Bobcats could either lose in a trade or add a single player to a team in need of about 12 more.
So they went with the defensive stalwart, Kentucky freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
He's tough, plays with a ton of energy, defends well and is a freakish athlete.
But he's limited offensively.
Sound familiar, Bobcat fans? Let's just say there's a reason that nbadraft.net said his NBA comparisons were Gerald Wallace and Andre Iguodala.
In other words, they need a few more pieces to shoot for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. And that's about as high as their ceiling goes.