NBA Draft: 5 Great Moves and 5 Bad Moves
Though none of the anticipated blockbusters materialized, the 2012 NBA Draft provided plenty of intrigue with players shooting up and hurtling down draft boards at a moment's notice. As is often the case, certain teams were more successful at capitalizing on these movements than others.
This list is not an attempt to apply grades or name winners and losers, but instead to highlight 10 individual moves which deserve either praise or skepticism, regardless of the strength of the rest of the team's draft night performance.
Great Move: Sacramento Kings Draft Thomas Robinson
Sometimes the best thing a team can do is just stay the course. The Sacramento Kings likely expected a larger draft board on Thursday as Dion Waiters going No. 4 overall meant that talented underachievers Harrison Barnes and Andre Drummond were both available at No. 5.
Yet the Kings stuck to their guns and took the player who could be a perfect fit alongside DeMarcus Cousins in their frontcourt. Robinson may be slightly undersized, but he is a proven winner with the hard-working mentality that the Kings need. He wasn't the flashiest pick, but Sacramento had to have been thrilled that he was still available.
Bad Move: Cleveland Cavaliers Reach for Dion Waiters
Dion Waiters is a very talented player. He is a threat to score whenever he touches the ball, and he will make a living for himself as a player who can create his own shot when needed.
But he was a sixth man in college. He probably fits best as a sixth man in the pros as well as the rest of his game has not quite caught up to his scoring ability. Even in a weak draft, there were better players available at the No. 4 slot.
Waiters has a chance to be a useful NBA player, but he's not a top-five pick.
Great Move: Boston Celtics Take a Flier on Jared Sullinger
This was one of those picks that felt inevitable all night. With back-to-back picks late in the first round, the Celtics could afford to take the risk that Sullinger's back problems would limit his career. It was clear going into draft night that many teams were going to shy away from him because of the injury, and he fell right into the lap of a team that desperately needs size.
While the Celtics are beginning to retool, they are not in desperate need of a focal point, just pieces they can add to their puzzle. Their risk is small as Fab Melo will likely just take Sullinger's minutes if necessary, but the reward is high if Sullinger stays healthy and plays up to his potential.
Bad Move: New Orleans Hornets Add Austin Rivers
As soon as the Hornets selected Austin Rivers, analysts across the sport's world starting imagining the Hornets as the next coming of Oklahoma City. Aside from the fact that they have three young, well-known players, I'm not seeing it.
Anthony Davis is not Kevin Durant. He is going to be a great player and better than Durant at many facets of the game, but he cannot score at will without good point guard play. And the Hornets are not built for any point guard play at the moment as Rivers and Eric Gordon are both clearly shoot-first players. Rivers is an overdraft and a bad fit.
Great Move: Philadelphia 76ers Trade Up to No. 27
I'm not that high on Arnett Moultrie, the player the Sixers selected with the pick that they acquired from the Miami Heat on draft night. But the price they paid—a second-round pick and a protected future first-round pick—to move up into the first round of a deep draft was minimal.
There were several players still on the board—Perry Jones, Marquis Teague, even Draymond Green—who may be better players than Moultrie. But that just underscores the fact that the Sixers did well to move up into this position at such little cost.
Bad Move: Cleveland Cavaliers Trade 3 Picks for Tyler Zeller
This is another situation where the process is more important than the player. I like Tyler Zeller and think he can be a very solid NBA player, but Cleveland should have been able to move up from No. 24 to No. 17 without giving up two early second-round picks.
Cleveland needs frontcourt players who can run alongside Kyrie Irving, and Zeller is a part of that solution. But this team has a lot of needs (and Waiters doesn't necessarily fill a big one), and three picks would have been more helpful than Zeller will be. Even worse, it seems like the Cavs should have found a way to get Zeller while keeping one of the second-round picks.
Great Move: Golden State Warriors Steal Draymond Green
The Golden State Warriors getting Draymond Green with the No. 35 pick was the steal of the draft. Green is a fantastic all-around player who was the talent, intelligence and experience to contribute in several different roles immediately.
It was very surprising for Green fall this far as he would have been the perfect selection for a contending team looking for one more piece at the end of the first round. There are several players who were selected in front of Green who shouldn't have been, including...
Bad Move: Indiana Pacers Take Miles Plumlee in the First Round
If you were to flip the draft slots of Plumlee (No. 26) and Green (No. 35), the order of selections would make a lot more sense. But even then, you might argue that Plumlee was being drafted too high.
The Duke center rose up draft charts due to strong workouts, but he did not prove in college that he can be a valuable player in the increasingly fast-paced NBA. Plumlee was likely the biggest reach of the draft.
Great Move: Milwaukee Bucks Land Doron Lamb
The Bucks were able to land one of the best shooters in the draft, in the middle of the second round. Lamb was a critical part of Kentucky's national title run, proving that he can hit difficult shots when it matters most.
In the second round, the goal is to add a player who has one or two good skills that make him a candidate for a roster spot. Getting a player with an elite skill like Lamb's shooting ability is just gravy.
Bad Move: Nobody Drafts Scott Machado
In a league where starting-quality point guards are scarce, all 30 teams passed on one of the best true point guards in the entire draft.
Machado is not flashy: He played for Iona and did not rack up gaudy point totals like Damian Lillard. What he did do was average 10 assists last season, a rare feat in college basketball, while leading an exciting Iona offense to the NCAA Tournament.
Many teams could use a floor general of Machado's caliber, and it's shocking that nobody was willing to take a chance on him.