NBA Draft 2012 Grades: Evaluating Teams That Put Faith in Projects

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IJuly 4, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JUNE 29:  Team owner Tom Benson of the New Orleans Hornets presents Austin Rivers, the 10th overall pick in the NBA draft his jersey for the New Orleans Hornets at the New Orleans Arena on June 29, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

For some NBA prospects, what you see is what you get.

Others, on the other hand, are either raw, inconsistent or have character concerns. These are what we like to call "projects."

There are always a handful or these projects in every NBA draft, and the 2012 NBA draft was no different. 

Some projects will be built into powerhouses, some projects will crumble before our very eyes in the big and bad NBA.

Here's a look at some teams that drafted projects in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft, and how they grade.


9. Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut

Grade: A

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 06:  Andre Drummond #12 of the Connecticut Huskies lays up a basket against the DePaul Blue Demons during their first round game of the 2012 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 6, 2012 in New York Ci
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

There may be questions about Andre Drummond's desire and consistency, but with Dwight Howard-like athleticism, there is no question he's one of the most explosive players in the draft.

He was exactly the player the Pistons needed to complement center Greg Monroe. If Drummond can stay focused, he has the potential to be an elite shot-blocker as well as an offensive force around the hoop.


10. New Orleans Hornets: Austin Rivers, SG, Duke

Grade: C-

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 16:  Austin Rivers #0 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after the Blue Devils lose to the Lehigh Mountain Hawks 75-70 during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 16, 2012 in Gree
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

I have several issues with this pick.

First, given Eric Gordon may stay in New Orleans, it's almost as if the Hornets are asking Austin Rivers to play point guard.

I'm a firm believer he's not a point guard. He showed bad decision-making at times at Duke and had trouble playing within the game.

Sure, he has room to grow, but I like him better as a scoring shooting guard than a point guard. The Hornets could have drafted someone like Illinois center Meyers Leonard here to pair up with Anthony Davis.


11. Portland Trail Blazers: Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois

Grade: B+

CHAMPAIGN, IL - JANUARY 10: Meyers Leonard #12 of the Illinois Fighting Illini celebrates late in the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Assembly Hall on January 10, 2012 in Champaign, Illinois. The Illini defeated the Buckeyes 79-74. (Photo by Joe R
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Trail Blazers have been looking for their center of the future ever since they realized Greg Oden would never live up to his potential.

I'm a big believer in Meyers Leonard. He's raw offensively, but he has all the tools—including elite athleticism at the center position—to be a high-impact, complete player in the NBA.

Unlike Drummond, there are no questions whatsoever about his desire.


20. Denver Nuggets: Evan Fournier, SG, France

Grade: D+

TREVISO, ITALY - JUNE 11:  Evan Fournier in action during the adidas Eurocamp 2012 at La Ghirada sports center on June 11, 2012 in Treviso, Italy.  (Photo by Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images)
Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images

I wasn't a big fan of this move.

It's not that Evan Fournier doesn't have potential—he does. Having said that, there were so many impact players at this spot who could have helped the Nuggets immediately, who will also likely become better NBA players than Fournier.

Seemed like unnecessary risk to take.


28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Perry Jones III, F, Baylor

Grade: A

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 23:  Perry Jones III #1 of the Baylor Bears drives against the Xavier Musketeers during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Semifinal game at the Georgia Dome on March 23, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Get
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Yes, there are questions about Perry Jones' desire and consistency. However, like Drummond, he's an explosive athlete who could become a monster in the NBA if he ever puts it together.

At No. 28 overall, this may go down as the steal of the draft. If Jones becomes a bust, it's not like the Thunder used a high draft pick on him. 


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