Re-Drafting the 1st Round of the 2012 NBA Draft, Pre-Training Camp Edition
Hindsight is always 20/20, and there will invariably be a handful of NBA teams that wish they had their first-round selection back when all is said and done in any given draft.
The combination of the pressure to change the fortune of a franchise, the time to make that selection on draft night and all the other variables that go into to making an NBA player successful sometimes makes for an imperfect system.
Of course, we haven't even seen any of these 2012 selections play meaningful minutes in the league. The Orlando and Las Vegas summer league programs helped teams evaluate talent and gave players a chance to prove they deserve a shot, but little else.
Before these rookies head to training camp with their new teams, let's envision a world where some are heading to completely different destinations. Take into account that when drafting now, the free-agent signings, trades and other moves have already been made, affecting the mindset of certain teams.
All picks are based on what we know about these prospects after summer league and after the flurry of free-agent activity is mostly in the books.
No. 1: New Orleans Hornets, Anthony Davis
No amount of money or draft picks would change the minds of new owner Tom Benson and the rest of the Hornets staff. After winning the NBA draft lottery in April, there was no doubt that Davis would be in New Orleans.
His presence on the 2012 Olympic men's basketball team prohibited him from participating in summer league, but in true Christian Laettner fashion, he followed up an NCAA championship with a slot on one of the best teams ever assembled in international play.
Davis was about the surest thing New Orleans could do with the No. 1 pick, and it'll be reaping the benefits of his development and skills for years to come.
No. 2: Charlotte Bobcats, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Although it's tempting to think Damian Lillard would have been a star in Charlotte, Kidd-Gilchrist did nothing in his summer league action to suggest he won't be right there with the best of the best in this class.
MKG will probably have the green light from Day 1 in Charlotte, where Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions will look to facilitate the offense while getting the rookie from Kentucky looks.
If the Bobcats couldn't have Davis, MKG was the next best choice.
No. 3: Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal
The Wizards and the next two teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings, both likely saw how dominant Damian Lillard was at times in summer league. The trouble is, those teams all have young point guards (John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas) that they're banking on to be successful.
Bradley Beal filled a need for Washington, which hasn't gotten consistent enough play from its shooting guards in the Wall era to be satisfied.
He scored a lot of points during summer league and showed a nice penchant for getting to the basket, although he struggled from three-point range, which was considered his greatest strength on draft night. He and Wall will continue to grow together.
No. 4: Harrison Barnes, Cleveland Cavaliers
Harrison Barnes far outperformed the current new wing for the Cavs, Dion Waiters, by shooting lights out in summer league action and showing teams why "league-ready" was so used in his draft profile.
Sure, Cleveland still might hit the jackpot with Waiters, but he struggled to find his jump shot and didn't try to get to the basket in his summer league action. Barnes proved that he is ready to contribute right now and that he could have gone much higher in the draft.
Waiters reportedly showed up "out of shape" for summer league, though he still has potential to be an explosive athlete as his position. However, it seems Barnes could have helped make Cleveland a playoff team before Waiters will.
No. 5: Sacramento Kings, Thomas Robinson
No change here with Thomas Robinson, who was the Kings' target from Day 1 and is now part of the formidable frontcourt with DeMarcus Cousins.
Robinson struggled with turnovers in summer league, but he won't have to make as many plays off the dribble or in the flow of the offense with Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas and Cousins all priority options.
No. 6: Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard
Lillard might turn into the steal of the draft at No. 6, especially after his co-MVP performance at the Las Vegas Summer League. Lillard turned heads with his ball-handling and smooth scoring ability and looks like the point guard of the future Portland thought when it took him in June.
No. 7: Golden State Warriors, John Henson
With Barnes off the board, John Henson is a great choice for the Warriors. Some believe he has upside similar to Anthony Davis, though Davis is far superior in terms of potential.
Henson lit up summer league, averaging 18 points and showing off his impressive ability to alter shots in the paint. He also showed good range on his jump shot and shot over 50 percent from the floor.
He would have been a nice replacement piece off the bench for the man Golden State traded for Andrew Bogut—Ekpe Udoh. As it turns out, Henson is going to join Udoh in Milwaukee as a teammate.
No. 8: Toronto Raptors, Terrence Ross
Contrary to popular belief in June, I think Terrence Ross was the right pick for the Raptors. Although DeMar DeRozan and Landry Fields are potentially blocking him on the depth chart, there are more factors at play, especially with an eye towards the future.
DeRozan is set to be a restricted free agent next summer. He's likely set to get a max contract, especially if you look at the pattern set with guards like Eric Gordon. After giving money to Fields and worrying about keeping new addition Kyle Lowry, will Toronto match a max deal?
Ross wasn't overly impressive, but he showed nice athleticism and should contribute right away, at the very least.
No. 9: Detroit Pistons, Andre Drummond
The Pistons were hoping Andre Drummond fell into their laps at No. 9, and he delivers again in this re-draft, slipping past on pure potential.
Drummond had a nice summer league, impressed at a Las Vegas camp and has Dwight Howard-like potential, according to scouts. He and Greg Monroe should have fun playing together, and by the time they both are clicking, it should be fun to watch.
No. 10: New Orleans Hornets, Kendall Marshall
Austin Rivers has more upside as an athlete and playmaker; there is no doubt about that. But Kendall Marshall is a true point guard, and with Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis needing looks, why not use Marshall to get them the ball?
Rivers played point guard exclusively in summer league, and while he showed flashes of the playmaking ability that showed at Duke, he also struggled in the turnover department. Marshall would have been a great pick for NO if it wanted to go a more traditional route.
No. 11: Portland Trail Blazers, Meyers Leonard
The Blazers targeted a point guard and center to fill the gap left by departing free agents, and they got exactly what they were looking for in Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard. No doubt that if Drummond for some reason had slipped Portland would have taken him first, but Leonard is a solid center with some untapped offensive potential.
No. 12: Houston Rockets, Jeremy Lamb
The Rockets got a steal in the draft in Jeremy Lamb, who outperformed the player he was compared to, Bradley Beal, in summer league. Both scored the ball well, but Lamb shot it well from deep and better than Beal.
Say goodbye to Kevin Martin by season's end, Houston fans. Lamb should supplant the high-priced shooting guard and be a vision of what the future looks like for coach Kevin McHale and company.
No. 13: Phoenix Suns, Austin Rivers
Rivers is a consolation prize now that Marshall is off the board and would fit in nicely since he wouldn't be asked to be a full-time point guard.
Coming off the bench behind Goran Dragic and Jared Dudley, Rivers would have time to not only grow, but light it up in an offense where the green light is encouraged and almost always on green.
No. 14: Milwaukee Bucks, Tyler Zeller
With Henson off the board and two guards in Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings already in play, Tyler Zeller is a solid pick behind the other big men Milwaukee has in its current rotation.
Although he's been unimpressive, he's been solid on the glass and shot a good percentage from the field in summer league, which bodes well for his NBA prospects.
He isn't flashy but is a solid center and would bring stability to the position behind an aging Samuel Dalembert.
No. 15: Philadelphia 76ers, Maurice Harkless
The Dwight Howard trade likely still gets done without Maurice Harkless, but let's give Philadelphia some credit that drafting the youngster was some sort of elaborate plan to get Andrew Bynum (whether it was or not).
Harkless would have been a nice addition in Doug Collins' defense-oriented attack and would also add some nice transition game to an offense that averaged one of the lowest totals in the league last season. He's an intriguing prospect without a true position, so it will be interesting to see what kind of developmental process he takes.
No. 16: Houston Rockets, Terrence Jones
Terrence Jones averaged 18.5 points and eight rebounds in summer league action, leaving some wondering why he wasn't drafted higher. He still is somewhat of a tweener and sits behind Patrick Patterson and Chandler Parsons at two positions on the depth chart.
But his explosive athleticism, solid decision-making and ability to guard multiple positions are going to make it clear why he should have been drafted ahead of his teammate Royce White.
No. 17: Cleveland Cavaliers, Dion Waiters
The Dion Waiters free fall stops at No. 17, where Cleveland makes the trade with Dallas for three picks but doesn't draft Tyler Zeller. Waiters has great potential but struggled in the role Cleveland asked him to play in summer league.
Can that change? With Harrison Barnes now a teammate and Kyrie Irving running the show, Waiters would be free to roam more, which is what he did so well at Syracuse. Cleveland still gets its man but is a little light in the frontcourt.
No. 18: Houston Rockets, Royce White
Is there a more intriguing prospect than Royce White? The big man almost put together a triple-double in one of his summer league games and has shown people why he was such a matchup problem at Iowa State.
While the difference between No. 16 and No. 18 isn't much, I don't think there is much doubt that Jones has more upside than White, though White has proven he is an NBA-ready talent who will push for playing time on a new-look Houston squad.
No. 19: Orlando Magic, Tony Wroten Jr.
The Howard trade leaves injury prone Jameer Nelson and Ishmael Smith as the only point guards on the Orlando roster. Tony Wroten would be a great combatant to that dilemma, as he's a scoring guard with the ability to run an offense.
Orlando has depth at the forward positions but is a little light at guard. Since it likes trying to rebuild through the draft, Wroten would be a nice replacement for Nelson in the near future, who likely won't want to stick around while Orlando figures it out.
No. 20: Denver Nuggets, Evan Fournier
I think Denver knocked it out of the park with Evan Fournier, who fills a need with Arron Afflalo going to the Magic and also is a young guard who can get to the basket.
He'll fill the role of unhappy, oft-injured Rudy Fernandez, and I think Fournier has a shot to crack George Karl's rotation if he works on his shot selection and shows the same playmaking ability he did in France.
No. 21: Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger
The next two picks for the Celtics stay the same, starting with Jared Sullinger, who could be Charles Barkley in disguise. He's going to be a work in progress, and he'll have to continue to polish his post game against bigger defenders, but who better to learn from than Kevin Garnett?
No. 22: Boston Celtics, Fab Melo
Fab Melo had an inconsistent showing in summer league, but if you look at his time at Syracuse, he struggled during his freshman season before being the Big East Defensive Player of the Year during his sophomore season.
He'll pick up the effort as he goes along, and it's important that he does, since the Celtics are counting on his presence as a reserve center to diffuse some of the time they need Garnett at the position for 82 games in the regular season.
No. 23: Atlanta Hawks, John Jenkins
John Jenkins was quite a surprise at summer league, showing a Ray Allen-like ability to run off screens and shoot the ball. He shot over 50 percent from the floor and looks like exactly what Atlanta needs to prepare for life without Joe Johnson in control of the offense.
No. 24: Dallas Mavericks, Jae Crowder
It shouldn't have taken the Mavericks so long to take Jae Crowder, who went 10 picks after this slot in June's draft. He probably wouldn't have been there if the league noticed his summer league performance, where he averaged 16-plus points and shot the ball well from three.
Crowder has a shot to make the rotation at small forward in Dallas, which is important for Dallas defensively to match up with the league's best (and its current rival) in Oklahoma City.
No. 25: Memphis Grizzlies, Doron Lamb
Doron Lamb had a nice summer, showing the ability to score the ball the same way he did at Kentucky. He's been a solid shooter, shown nice touch and could end up being a very Jason Terry-like player when it's all said and done.
With Jerryd Bayless and Josh Selby behind Mike Conley at point guard, Lamb would help diffuse some of the need for bench scoring at either guard position while allowing the young guards in Memphis to continue to grow.
No. 26: Indiana Pacers, Bernard James
Nothing against Miles Plumlee, who played a lot better than many expected in his summer league debut, but Bernard James could help the Pacers win now.
Even with Ian Mahinmi, who they traded Darren Collison for, James would likely impact the game more than Plumlee can, especially considering he is a man on a mission and understands his NBA shelf life is shorter than every other prospect in the draft.
No. 27: Philadelphia 76ers, Andrew Nicholson
Andrew Nicholson impressed in Orlando summer league, making the first-team squad and showing some nice offensive prowess, which is what Orlando needs.
Nothing against Arnett Moultrie, who wasn't able to participate due to injury, but Nicholson is healthy, motivated and could have been a nice piece for the new-look 76ers, who now have Andrew Bynum at their disposal.
No. 28: Oklahoma City Thunder, Perry Jones
I don't think in any scenario OKC passes on Perry Jones at No. 28, no matter what his motor is like. He had some good games and some bad games in summer league, which is similar to his time in college.
It will be interesting to see what role he can carve out for the Thunder, who have shown the ability to go small and still wear teams out by getting out in the open court and running them into the ground. Jones would likely play power forward in that lineup.
No. 29: Chicago Bulls, Marquis Teague
Marquis Teague was a quality pick this late in the draft in June, and he's in the same position here, watching the other point guards go before him.
He's going to get his shot to play, especially since Derrick Rose won't be fully recovered from the ACL injury he suffered during the 2012 playoffs by the time the regular season starts. We'll see just how NBA-ready the younger Teague is when he's asked to carry the load for one of the Eastern Conference teams with the most expectations.
No. 30: Golden State Warriors, Jeffery Taylor
Jeffery Taylor sneaks into the first round after a strong summer league, where he showed an ability to play good defense and stretch the defense from the perimeter.
He'll help add stability to the small forward position vacated by not being able to take Harrison Barnes with the No. 7 pick. Golden State would be a good fit for the four-year player from Vanderbilt, who is as close to Shane Battier in my mind as they come.