Now that the 2012 NBA draft is in the books, it’s time to take a look at whether the lottery teams closed the gap on the playoff teams.
It’s tough for a bad team to crack the playoffs in the NBA, but here’s a look at what teams are closing the gap and which are just treading water.
John Jenkins at No. 23 is a bit of a stretch although I love his shooting ability. Virginia’s Mike Scott will be a very good bench player for the Hawks.
Overall, the Hawks didn’t make a big splash but they added a couple of possible contributors.
Plenty of teams stayed away from Jared Sullinger, but he’s worth the risk at No. 21.
Fab Melo is a project, but he adds much-needed size and Kris Joseph will also provide solid depth for the team. The Celtics got bigger and younger almost overnight though which was a goal, even though Sullinger and Melo are question marks.
Tyshawn Taylor could be a good backup guard on this team and down the road could become a quality defender and underrated scorer.
Tornike Shengelia and Ilkan Karaman don’t do much for them now and may never see the court in the NBA.
The Nets might very well lose both Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace and, since this draft doesn't look good on paper, they could be heading for a lottery pick next season.
The Bobcats needed players to make an impact and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is going to be a great fit on this team. His leadership abilities and tenacity on the defensive end of the floor should be infectious on this roster.
Jeff Taylor adds another elite athlete who can defend. The Bobcats are still far away, but this was a very solid draft from Michael Jordan's team; they add two players that can not only contribute right away but who are leaders and can help change the losing culture in Charlotte.
Teague could ultimately be better than his brother, Jeff, but I think the Bulls needed to address the 2-guard spot as adding backcourt scoring was a priority. But the Bulls got themselves a solid player at No. 29 nonetheless.
A Kyrie Irving-Waiters backcourt will pressure opposing defenses for years.
They gave up a lot to move up and get Tyler Zeller (three picks), but Cleveland needed some size and it was a smart move. The Cavs have a very nice young core in Irving, Waiters, Zeller and Tristan Thompson.
Looking forward, they have a nice young backcourt and some frontcourt depth. While I like the Cavs young core right now, they are still a year or two away from being a playoff team.
Dallas added picks and more cap flexibility for the future by trading down.
However, Cunningham can add scoring, and James and Crowder can add some much-needed, hard-nosed defensive play. If the Mavs sign Deron Williams they look good on paper. If not, they still need to add a couple big pieces to contend.
Evan Fournier went too high for my liking, and it will be interesting to see if they want to bring him over this season or wait a couple of years.
Quincy Miller will turn out to be a nice pick if he develops, and Izzet Turkyilmaz could turn into something in the future, if he ever reaches the NBA.
All of these picks are for the future, though, as the Nuggets had no real pressing needs, but keep your eye on Miller as he has the ability to become a star.
This grade could be better if Andre Drummond becomes a star, but on paper, a frontcourt that features Drummond and Greg Monroe could be very good for years to come.
I like the Pistons getting Khris Middleton and Kim English, who will add some shooting as well.
All three guys should compete for playing time right away. Add them to Brandon Knight and Monroe, and the Pistons are starting to fill out nicely.
Detroit improved with this draft, and after a strong finish to the 2012 season, the Pistons could be closer to a playoff team than most people would believe.
The Warriors got a gift when Harrison Barnes fell to them, as they needed production at small forward.
He will turn out to be a steal for the Warriors, and a starting lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Barnes, David Lee and Andrew Bogut could be very good.
Festus Ezeli is a big body that I like a lot; he should be a solid backup center for years to come. Draymond Green was a steal in the second round and Ognjen Kuzmic is a player Golden State can stash away for a few years.
This was an outstanding draft by the Warriors who add an impact player and two depth pieces. Mark Jackson’s team is a playoff team on paper.
It will be interesting to see how many of the three are still with the Rockets when training camp nears, as the Rockets have a huge void in the middle.
Houston grabbed three guys that can contribute and even become starters in the NBA, plus Furkan Aldemir is actually a pretty good foreign prospect who could make an impact down the road.
The Rockets are not only set up nicely for the future, but they should be pretty good in 2013 as well. They narrowly missed the playoffs in 2012, but that may not happen again next season.
Miles Plumlee could be decent, but he could also be out of the league quickly. Trading up to take Orlando Johnson in the second round could work out nicely but overall I did not like Indiana’s draft.
I was stumped by both of Indiana’s picks, based on what they have on the roster
The Pacers did very little to improve.
The Clippers didn’t pick in this draft. Grade: N/A
Darius Johnson-Odom should be a good depth piece for a team in need of solid bench players and better athletes.
Robert Sacre is not a bad player to get with the final pick of the draft. Overall the Lakers added some additional size, scoring and athleticism. Not a bad night considering where they were drafting coming in.
I like Tony Wroten for them, but he will need time to develop, and we won’t know how this pick works out for a couple of years.
The Grizzlies needed a backup point guard so Wroten fills a need, but he is a lousy shooter and doesn’t take care of the ball very well.
This grade could be much higher is Wroten develops the way his raw talent says he should.
The Heat traded down to save cap space but there was some very good talent on the board when they picked. Jordan Hamilton could turn into a rotation guy.
Passing on Moultrie or Jones could turn into a mistake, but the Heat didn’t add or lose anything and they are the champs, so it’s not the end of the world.
I love the John Henson pick. Along with trading for Samuel Dalembert, Milwaukee gets deeper and better up front and should be a team that can protect the rim.
I also like Doron Lamb, who can add be a lethal shooter off the bench.
It’s been a very good couple of days for the Bucks. Milwaukee is adding the parts to possibly crack the playoffs this season.
Robbie Hummel can play defense and shoot the ball. He adds some depth for the Wolves and could be a rotation player this season.
New Orleans Hornets
The Hornets added Anthony Davis with the No. 1 overall pick, which is plenty enough for the high grade. But they also added another quality player in Austin Rivers, which creates a good young combo to watch for years to come.
Darius Miller isn't talked about as much the day after the draft, but he is a steal in the middle of Round 2.
New Orleans isn’t a playoff team this season, but they have certainly laid down the groundwork to get there very soon.
Kostas Papanikolaou could be a star once he makes his way to the NBA.
However, it could take a couple of years, and the Knicks needed to add something in this draft that could have helped them immediately.
Getting Perry Jones III at the bottom of the first round is a steal. He’s just another young weapon for a team already loaded with them.
If Jones even comes close to living up to his potential, he will be a star.
I love Andrew Nicholson’s game and think he could be the steal of the draft. He’s a guy who can do it all and will be productive at both ends.
Kyle O’Quinn is also a nice pick and will surprise people with how productive he is.
No matter what they decide to do with Dwight Howard, the Magic have gotten bigger and added a pair of guys who can bang.
I love the upside of Maurice "Moe" Harkless, but I don’t know if Philadelphia is the best fit, since they have wing players galore right now. I also like the upside of Arnett Moultrie, who should be a solid rebounder for the team.
The Sixers need some backcourt players, but in the future Harkless could be a star and Moultrie fills a need.
This could be that the writing is on the wall for Andre Iguodala, though.
This was a need pick for the Suns, but I don’t think Kendall Marshall's game will translate well to the NBA.
Marshall is an outstanding floor general, but he’s not a great athlete and will struggle scoring and defending. Sometimes great college point guards don’t make great NBA point guards.
He will have big shoes to fill if Steve Nash leaves as a free agent; his addition alone won’t make the Suns a playoff team.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers had some needs and filled them.
To get a first-round talent like Will Barton in the second round is a steal. The Blazers have the pieces set in place for the future.
Leonard won’t be a difference-maker right away, and the Blazers will be too young to make a run at the playoffs, but I still love their draft.
Robinson fell into their lap and will be a great fit on a Kings team that has some good young talent. He is explosive and will be a tenacious rebounder.
Paired with DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings filled a huge need in the draft and could have a dominant frontcourt for years to come.
Sacramento will eventually get there, but this team is very young and must learn how to win.
To do that, the Kings must get better defensively; a season ago they allowed an NBA-worst 104.4 points per game.
That is something that doesn’t get fixed overnight.
The Spurs always find players late in the draft, and Marcus Denmon could be a solid backup point guard.
He’s undersized but can shoot the ball.
I like Terrence Ross a lot but the Raptors could have probably traded down and still got him. Still, he’s a player that can do it all and helps the Raptors add some toughness in the backcourt.
Second round pick, Quincy Acy adds some size and length and has the chance to be a surprise.
Tomislav Zubcic is another player to stash away who may never see the NBA.
Kevin Murphy has the chance to be a surprise. He can score the ball and at 6’6” has good size for a 2-guard.
He was worth rolling the dice on in the second round.
Bradley Beal certainly fills the hole at shooting guard, and Tomas Satoransky should provide good depth in the future.
The Wizards now have one of the most athletic backcourts in the NBA and improved both before and during the draft.
Washington will be much improved but still has a little ways to go before contending in the Eastern Conference.