NBA Draft 2012 Grades: Teams That Set Themselves Back Years
Some call it building for the future. Others call it "stashing players." When your team is trying to get better and you avoid a need by drafting a player who is not available to contribute right off of the bat, I call that downright ridiculous.
While a majority of the teams had a solid draft, improving upon their respective needs and building for an immediate future, some have opted to take the slower route to victory. Whether they selected European players who will remain overseas or young players at crowded positions, the following teams have set a new standard for head-scratching draft decisions.
Why oh why do they treat us like this?
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I must be missing something.
Second Round, Pick 41 (via Blazers): Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas Jayhawks
The only player that the Brooklyn Nets will actually see during the 2013 season is a good one. Tyshawn Taylor is a push-the-pace point guard who's excellent in transition, stellar as a perimeter defender and as passionate as anyone you'll find. Although he'd hardly fill the void that would be left by Deron Williams' potential departure, he's certainly a nice player to have as the Nets build for the future.
The best part is, Taylor doesn't need to wait for the future. His projected first-year contributions to the Nets can be likened to those of Norris Cole to the Miami Heat.
Pick Grade: B+
Second Round, Pick 54 (via 76ers): Tornike Shengelia, Georgia
No, not that Georgia. The Georgia that rests on a separate continent. The Georgia that will keep Tornike Shengelia out of the NBA for at least a full season and lead to the Nets roster remaining as weak and wide open as any entering free agency.
There's no other way to describe this pick. The Brooklyn Nets did well to build for the future, but forgot about the fact that they've promised to win right now. Weak decision-making by Billy King.
Pick Grade: C+
Second Round, Pick 57: Ilkan Karaman, Turkey
For the second consecutive selection, the Brooklyn Nets opt to take a player who will not see an NBA court in 2012. While the upside is undeniable and abilities are there, there's hardly enough to be excited about in Brooklyn if the production isn't immediate.
The Nets needed help right now, and they failed to get it by making this selection. Yet another display of poor drafting by Billy King.
The Nets may benefit from their picks from overseas in the distant future. Until then, the Nets will be wondering what could have been and who could have helped. A poor draft from a franchise that looks to be doing more of the same.
Short-Term Draft Grade: C-
You gave it all up for him?
The Cleveland Cavaliers finished selecting their picks and ended up with two elite slashing shooting guards, a dominant interior defender and one of the most versatile players of this draft class. Somehow, they walked away with only one elite shooting guard and a mediocre center who isn't great in any one category.
So, that just happened.
First Round, Pick 4: Dion Waiters, Syracuse Orange
Dion Waiters has legitimate star potential. The Syracuse alum is a powerful dribbler who can get to the basket with relative ease and finish above or around the rim with flashy efficiency.
Watch him play and you'll understand what I'm talking about.
Many have likened Waiters' playing style and abilities to that of a young Dwyane Wade. Clearly the Cleveland Cavaliers felt the same, as they went for a reach with this pick, much like many believed Pat Riley and the Heat were doing with D-Wade in 2003.
This pick does nothing but improve the Cavaliers right off the bat, even if they did need a perimeter shooter.
Pick Grade: A-
Remember how I told you the Cleveland Cavaliers needed a perimeter shooter? Well, with four draft picks, they managed to fill that void approximately zero times. In the end, they opted to go with a player in Tyler Zeller who does a lot of things well, but nothing better than the rest.
Strange player to trade for when Bernard James has established himself as a dominant interior defender.
Zeller will bring mobility to the 5 that Anderson Varejao lacks, as well as an intelligence that any team could benefit from. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers gave up some much-needed depth at the 2, an interior defender at the 5 and solidity on the perimeter to acquire him.
Why rip apart a roster for one decent player?
Pick Grade: C
The Cleveland Cavaliers added an elite prospect in Dion Waiters who has Dwyane Wade potential. Unfortunately, they traded away three future options in the rotation, including Jared Cunningham's Sixth Man of the Year potential. Even if Tyler Zeller does pan out, having a full roster that enables you to rid yourself of players such as Anthony Parker is better than bringing in one player.
Unless you think it's a five-man sport that requires no depth or rest.
Short-Term Draft Grade: C
When you're a playoff team with an immense level of talent and one pressing need to get you over the hump, you'd have to figure that at least one of your three draft picks would address that void. If you're the Denver Nuggets, however, conventional wisdom is something you simply don't believe in.
Here's a look at what can be called nothing but a questionable draft.
First Round, Pick 20: Evan Fournier, France
Evan Fournier out of France is a solid NBA prospect in the sense that he has great size for his position and excels in getting to the basket. Considering the Denver Nuggets are a team who needs to improve its half-court attack, which is currently non-existent, this selection makes perfect sense.
When you throw in the fact that Fournier is not nearly quick or powerful enough off of the dribble to succeed at the NBA level with his style of play, you begin to question the pick. When you consider that Fournier may not arrive in Denver for another year or two, as he potentially remains overseas, you realize how much of a wasted opportunity this truly was.
With sharpshooters such as John Jenkins and Doron Lamb, as well as Jared Cunningham, who plays Fournier's style but better, you have to wonder what the Nuggets were thinking. Maybe in two years we'll know.
Pick Grade: C+
Second Round, Pick 38: Quincy Miller, Baylor Bears
To be fair, this was an opportunity that Denver simply couldn't pass on. Some had them taking Quincy Miller with their first-round pick, so the opportunity to land the talented but injury-ridden Baylor star at this point in the draft just couldn't be passed on.
Nevertheless, you have to wonder where Miller fits in. The Nuggets just gave swingman Wilson Chandler a five-year, $37 million contract and are likely to offer a similar deal to Danilo Gallinari, who was the key focus of the Carmelo Anthony trade.
While Miller will bring unlimited upside and unmatched athleticism to the Nuggets roster, he'll also bring on a jam at the 3. Time is of the essence, and the Nuggets may be wasting it here.
Pick Grade: B
Second Round, Pick 50: Izzet Turkyilmaz, Turkey
With their final chance to find a sharpshooter to improve their half-court offense, they pass up on the opportunity to stash yet another player overseas. As Fran Fraschilla kindly put it during Thursday's NBA draft, "He's a big, physical forward...But he might not ever play in the NBA."
Great job, Nuggets.
Pick Grade: F
With an obvious need to sign a half-court scoring option, the Nuggets passed up on any and every opportunity they had. Denver brought in two European players who may not join its roster for the next one or two seasons and further crowded the perimeter, where big money has already been invested.
In the long-term, this may pay off, but as of right now, the Nuggets have set themselves back in a major way.
Short-Term Draft Grade: C-
New York Knicks
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The New York Knicks entered the 2012 NBA draft with high expectations, having found diamonds in the rough with their second round draft choices in the past and looking to build on that success. Rather than targeting depth in the front court, help at the point or a more consistent perimeter scorer than J.R. Smith, they stashed a player overseas.
A team that's good enough to make the playoffs but not even close to a championship contender has decided to waste a pick. Brilliant.
Second Round, Pick 48: Kostas Papanikolaou, Greece
Kostas Papanikolaou is a big, strong small forward whose skill set transfers well to the NBA style of play. He has a great motor, is an active defender and has a solid mid-range game, making him a threat to contribute in every way the Knicks could possibly need him to.
Too bad he'll be stashed over seas for a few years.
If you couldn't tell by the boos at the 2012 NBA draft, Knicks fans don't like this pick very much. Fran Fraschilla informing the Prudential Center that Papanikolaou "may never come over to play in the NBA" sure doesn't help, either.
Pick Grade: C+
This is a good pick for the Knicks if Kostas Papanikolaou does come over to play in the NBA. Unfortunately for the Knicks, we're grading these picks on their short-term value and this has set them back in a major way.
When you have the opportunity to add to a playoff roster with far too many holes to truly compete, it's difficult to understand how you could pass up on the opportunity to improve. The Knicks have once again defied logic and will wait and see how this pick pans out.
Short-Term Draft Grade: F
In all honesty, the Philadelphia 76ers did what they needed to do. They added a tall, athletic big man to their front court and took who they believed to be the best player available with their first-round draft choice.
Unfortunately, they also landed a project player and a guy whose stuck behind two established assets on the depth chart. How do you move forward when your gears are stuck in neutral?
First Round, Pick 15: Maurice Harkless, St. John's Red Storm
Maurice Harkless is a phenomenal athlete with a great deal of talent within his long 6'8" frame. Unfortunately, he's also a small forward.
In case you're unfamiliar with the Philadelphia's perimeter, it currently starts All-Star Andre Iguodala at the 3. Behind him is a combination of Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner, who play a bit of a tweener role as they split positions.
While Moe Harkless is talented, he's not good enough to take playing time away from Young or Turner. Considering it could have landed a center such as Tyler Zeller, whom it wouldn't have to trade three picks for (Cleveland), this pick seems to be a bit wasted.
Could this come back and bite them when Spencer Hawes hits free agency this summer?
Pick Grade: C
First Round, Pick 27 (via Miami Heat): Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State Bulldogs
You can't help but love this pick, as the 76ers addressed their need for an athletic big man to replace Elton Brand. Unfortunately, Moultrie is the furthest thing from NBA-ready and will take at least one or two full seasons in the NBA to begin to scratch the surface of his potential.
As a pick, this works out very well. As a pick for right now? This works out very poorly.
Moultrie was a dominant rebounder and shot alterer in college, but that was due to his athletic ability. In the NBA, Moultrie will need to develop a better interior approach as he learns how to properly box out and earn position on an opponent.
Pick Grade: B+
A very good draft for the Philadelphia 76ers if we're speaking about building for the future. In this instance, however, we're not.
The Philadelphia 76ers took on two players who could each qualify as "in progress." Both are outstanding athletes with remarkable upside, but both are also going to take a few years to find the proper playing time or source of production.
A good draft for tomorrow but a bad draft for today. Not what a playoff team needs.
Short-Term Draft Grade: C