NBA Draft Grades 2012: Team by Team Report Card, Results and Analysis
Wow, ladies and gentlemen. What a night!
Last night's draft was one of the most interesting in NBA history as some teams addressed their every need, while others made some...um...interesting picks. After Anthony Davis was taken first overall by the Hornets, everything else suddenly became completely unpredictable.
Thus, time to play teacher and go team-by-team in doling out this year's draft grades!
This was a weird draft for the Hawks, whose greatest needs, in my opinion, were at small forward. Instead, new GM Danny Ferry chose to take a pure shooter in Jenkins and a project forward in Taylor.
Jenkins is talented, but he can't play defense whatsoever. Scott is an undersized power forward, and he never really showcased much dominance on the defensive end in five years playing for the Cavaliers. Seeing as how defense plays a big role in the Hawks' system and reliable shooters can be found on the free agent market, needs weren't necessarily addressed in Atlanta's draft, if you ask me.
GM Danny Ainge chose to go big or go home in this year's draft and while each of his picks carries a big risk, they could pay off incredibly well if they pan out.
As we all know, Sullinger was red-flagged for a back injury and saw his stock drop immensely despite being one of the most talented big men in the draft pool. In terms of Melo and Joseph, their potential is up in the air. The Brazilian center is a big body and great shot blocker, but that's about it. Joseph is essentially a good college player, whose NBA career is a coin toss.
Still, it's hard to argue that size was a big need (ha ha) for the Celtics, what with both Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass potentially leaving via free agency. Success isn't a guarantee here, but Ainge still did well.
Considering how they didn't have a first-round pick, the Brooklyn Nets' draft could have gone a lot worse. They managed to swing a trades for Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor (pictured) and Georgian forward Tornike Shengelia, and used their sole selection at No. 57 to take Ilkan Karaman out of Turkey.
Not much is known about the international players, but it's good that GM Billy King was able to trade for Taylor. He's a point man who has a score-first mentality, but can also dish out some pretty passes when he chooses to. Think Stephon Marbury, but without the attitude.
Going into last night's draft, the general consensus, at least according to ESPN's Chad Ford, was that the Bobcats and Cavaliers would swap the second and fourth picks and that Cleveland would use the No. 2 pick to take Bradley Beal. Instead, Charlotte owner Michael Jordan proved that he knows nothing about drafting the best players available.
Jordan used the second overall pick to take Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out of Kentucky, a player who certainly has the potential yet lacks a consistent jump shot. To kick off the second round, the Bobcats picked Jeff Taylor out of Vanderbilt, a player with great defensive abilities but who can't create his own shot.
Given how Charlotte's first need was a consistent scorer, MJ dropped the ball on this one.
The Bulls had one need last night: draft a point guard who can get the stars the ball while Derrick Rose is rehabbing a knee injury.
That said, GM Gar Forman knocked the ball out of the park when he used the team's sole pick at No. 29 to take Marquis Teague out of Kentucky. Teague didn't do much in one year at school, but he's still a good athlete who had John Calipari as his coach. He'll do a fine job of filling in for Rose and if he impresses, could see significant minutes off the bench.
With the fourth pick and Bradley Beal off the board, the Cavs had to go with Plan B. If you ask me, it was a pretty decent plan as Dion Waiters was a solid choice as he could form a great relationship with Kyrie Irving and become a good shooter to complement the young point guard.
Keeping up the rebuilding phase, Cleveland also managed to swing a trade in sending all of their other picks to the Dallas Mavericks for the rights to center Tyler Zeller. Both Zeller and Waiters have great attitudes and are highly coachable, though the center from North Carolina is a bit of a risk.
Still, great moves by Dan Gilbert in the long run.
The Mavericks drafted a decent center in Zeller, but then chose to trade him to the Cavaliers for picks that were used to draft the following: Bernard James of Florida State (pictured), Jared Cunningham of Oregon State and Jae Crowder of Marquette.
In all honesty, I don't know what Mark Cuban was thinking with this one. James is essentially a slightly more athletic Brendan Haywood, Cunningham is a hit or miss shooter and Crowder just doesn't seem to fit in the team's system. Each player has potential but in terms of best players available, the Mavs dropped the ball.
Denver had two needs entering last night: depth at point guard and overall defense. Instead, they used two of their three picks on complete gambles: Evan Fournier of France and Izzet Turkyilmaz of Turkey. Most international prospects are a complete roll of the dice so unless they're a sure thing, I always say that drafting them in the first round is a bad idea.
The only solid pick of Denver's draft was Quincy Miller of Baylor, who will provide some explosive power above the rim and could become a solid scorer in time.
The Pistons had to go big last night, so GM Joe Dumars must have been a very happy camper when UConn center Andre Drummond slipped to his team at No. 9. Drummond won't make an impact on offense to start, but he's still a phenomenal athlete whose defensive abilities are off the charts. At 6'10", 270 pounds, he provides some much needed help at power forward.
Dumars didn't make as big an impact with his two second round picks, selecting a project forward in Khris Middleton of Texas A&M and a potential replacement for Ben Gordon in shooter Kim English of Missouri. Overall, I'd say that Detroit's draft was a success.
Golden State Warriors
New GM Bob Myers had four picks to work with last night and overall, and he made some solid selections. The Warriors now have at least three new players coming in: Harrison Barnes of North Carolina, Festus Ezeli of Vanderbilt and Draymond Green of Michigan State. Ognjen Kuzmic will probably spend the next couple of years in Europe, so we won't go into him.
Still, Myers did a decent job with his first draft. Barnes is a streaky scorer and a risk, but he's very reliable when his shots are falling. Both he and Green give Golden State some much needed depth at small forward, while Ezeli provides some solid defense at center. Given the team's needs off the bench, Myers did just what he had to do.
The Rockets had three picks in the first round, and GM Daryl Morey completed the draft hat trick. In just one night, he managed to do the following: take a player who just doesn't work for his team (Jeremy Lamb), pick one who carries an enormous risk but with great potential (Royce White), and select one who could be the sleeper of the entire draft (Terrence Jones).
Lamb is a scorer who plays no defense, so this sounds like another feud with coach Kevin McHale just waiting to happen. White and Jones, however, are different stories. White has undeniable talent, but also some personal problems that could derail his NBA career while Jones is just a beast on defense and above the rim.
By just scoring on one out of three picks, this draft was just average.
The Pacers entered the draft needing help at point guard, or maybe some insurance at center in case Roy Hibbert leaves via free agency. Yet, did they really have to take Miles Plumlee instead of exploring the free agent market? This was just a bad pick, and one that will be viewed as unacceptable some years down the road.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers used their sole pick, the 53rd overall, on Turkish forward Furkan Aldemir. I don't know much about him, but I can tell that this selection reeks of one thing: team owner Donald Sterling (pictured) not wanting to spend money on the team.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers got dealt a bad hand in this year's draft, holding only the last overall pick. Instead of using it to fill their need at point guard, with Scott Machado available, they instead used it on Robert Sacre, a seven-footer out of Gonzaga whose only value is as an unathletic shot blocker. If the intent with this pick was to draft the true Mr. Irrelevant, I guess the Lakers could have done worse.
Still, Sacre doesn't really bring anything to the table regarding what he could do for the team.
The Grizzlies definitely needed help at shooting guard and while Tony Wroten wasn't necessarily a bad pick at No. 25, he certainly wasn't the best. He has good size for the position at 6'5", but his long-range shooting isn't what it should be. Seeing as how he could be replacing O.J. Mayo in the very near future, that's a problem.
On top of that, Wroten tends to be a bit of a ball hog and also can't play defense to save his life. Teammates Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph, not to mention coach Lionel Hollins, won't stand for that at all. Still, he has a tremendous upside and is definitely worth the gamble.
At first, it looked like Miami made a great pick in taking Arnett Moultrie out of Mississippi State. Yet, the Heat traded his rights to Philadelphia for the No. 45 pick, used on Justin Hamilton of LSU. Another unathletic seven-footer, Hamilton just reminds me of Jim McIlvaine—a tall white guy who is decent in college and absolute crap in the NBA.
And here we see a perfect example of why Miami's Big Three approach was a bad idea, seeing as how they can't even afford decent draft picks.
The Bucks needed a big man, and John Henson is exactly that. He'll provide some much needed help on defense and fill a hole at power forward, particularly since Ersan Ilyasova will most definitely leave via free agency. The only real red flags against him are his skinny frame and his questionable offensive abilities. Then again, he's there to block shots and nothing more.
Throw in the team's second round pick of sharpshooter Doron Lamb, and it's safe to say that John Hammond is resting easy for now.
Minnesota used its sole pick in the draft, the third-to-last overall, to take Robbie Hummel out of Purdue. Here's a guy who went through multiple knee surgeries throughout his college career, but was still effective.
Will Hummel ever be a great NBA player? I don't think so. Still, his attitude is phenomenal and he'll be a great locker room player a la Brian Cardinal. On a teams as young as Minnesota, that can sometimes make a huge difference.
New Orleans Hornets
It's hard to call the Hornets' draft anything but largely successful. They snagged Anthony Davis with the first overall pick, and took solid shooters in Austin Rivers and Darius Miller with their remaining two selections. Davis will immediately start contributing with his superb defensive abilities, Rivers could see time as a bench scorer and Miller's three-point shooting could prove to be highly valuable.
The only pick I really have an issue with here is Rivers, whose game is one-sided. Call me crazy, but he could have used another year at Duke.
Still, the kid has talent, and overall, the Hornets had a great night.
New York Knicks
Though they only had a second round pick, the 48th overall, the Knicks had plenty of options available to suit their needs both on defense and at point guard. Personally, I was hoping for them to take Kevin Jones of West Virginia or Scott Machado of Iona.
Instead, GM Glen Grunwald used the Knicks' pick on Kostas Papanikolaou, a Greek forward who can't jump and won't be in the NBA for at least two years. This alone seems like proof that Isiah Thomas is still lurking around the Knicks' front office and that James Dolan needs to be forcibly removed as owner.
Oklahoma City Thunder
It took a while for his name to be called, but Perry Jones will be starting his career in Oklahoma City. He has talent, but there has been concern about a knee injury and his abilities on defense.
I can see why teams were turned off by him, but the Thunder got a steal in Jones. With a great coach in Scott Brooks, he could definitely turn into a solid two-way forward who can score just as well as he plays on the other side.
In case Ryan Anderson leaves in free agency, Orlando could need some help at power forward. Thus, new GM Rob Hennigan made a solid pick in taking St. Bonaventure's Andrew Nicholson.
When watching Nicholson, I think of a less powerful Kevin Garnett. He's definitely score-first, but can improve his defense with time and patience from his coaches. With Dwight Howard probably leaving Orlando either in the near future or after next season, taking a chance on him could provide a look into the future. If he plays well, all the better.
I look at the Sixers drafting Maurice Harkless out of St. John's, and I think of one thing: Andre Iguodala will be traded this season to dump some salary. Still, if Iggy is to be traded, Harkless is more than a suitable replacement. His talent and drive will make it seem as though Iguodala never left.
Later in the night, the team traded their second-round pick to the Miami Heat for the rights to Arnett Moultrie, who could provide some solid minutes behind Elton Brand in the event that the veteran power forward gets hurt. It wasn't the best night for Philadelphia, but not a failure at all.
Phoenix may need a point guard soon if Steve Nash goes to another team, and Kendall Marshall isn't a bad choice at all. He's a pass-first point guard, and that's just the type of floor general that is needed in coach Alvin Gentry's offense.
However, one thing Marshall lacks in that offense is consistent scoring. He has never been much of a shooter and at least to start, he's going to struggle in that department. Still, he's a great leader and could become a star in Phoenix is team management is patient with him.
Portland Trail Blazers
Lillard will probably start immediately and become the solid scoring point man the team hoped Raymond Felton would be last year, but Leonard is more of a project. Right now, he's a center with a jump shot and at 7'1", the Blazers are going to want him to become more of a defender. Still, he has a positive attitude and that can only help him.
Throw in scorer Will Barton, taken in the second round, and it was a good night for Portland.
In using the No. 5 pick on Thomas Robinson, the Sacramento Kings now have their most dominant power forward since Chris Webber. He has a great jump shot and can work the inside well on both offense and defense, plus his positive attitude will be welcome on the young Sacramento squad.
Yes, the Kings' first need was bench scoring, but Robinson's upside is just too good. It's hard to not call this a win for both the team and the city.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs' culture as of late has revolved around the idea of a scoring point guard. With Tony Parker's contract up in a couple of years, he'll eventually need a successor.
That said, San Antonio taking Marcus Denmon out of Missouri with the second to last overall pick was a pretty good move. His assist numbers in college weren't what they should have been, but the fact remains that the guy can shoot.
Under Parker's tutelage, he could definitely turn into a solid option at the point.
The Raptors needed a big man, and Andre Drummond was available when they took their turn at No. 8. Instead, they made the worst move possible. With their first round pick, they took shooter Terrence Ross out of Washington. Unless they plan on trading the ever-improving DeMar DeRozan, there's no way of understanding this move.
In the second round, they took a solid option in Baylor forward Quincy Acy, who will provide some much-needed defense, but then wasted a pick on Croatian forward Tomislav Zubcic. All in all, it was a night of bad decisions for GM Bryan Colangelo.
Utah has two solid options at shooting guard in youngsters Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks, so it's odd that the Jazz would use their sole pick to take raw shooter Kevin Murphy out of Tennessee Tech with so many better players available.
Both Hayward and Burks are too young for team management to be impatient with them already, so I'm just going to chalk this up to bad decision making by the front office.
Bradley Beal turned 19 last night, and the Wizards gave him a great gift in taking him third overall. This young shooting guard is a great athlete with an even greater attitude. On a Washington team hampered by immaturity, his standing out could probably rally his teammates around him and John Wall. All in all, a great move by GM Ernie Grunfeld.
But wait, there's more! Grunfeld used the team's second-round pick on another shooting guard, Tomas Satoransky of the Czech Republic. This young man hails from the same country as the team's first round pick from last year, Jan Vesely and the two are supposedly good friends.
In one night, the Wizards not only dealt with a team need, but also took a huge step in improving team chemistry. That's an epic victory if you ask me.