Breaking Down How Every 2012 NBA 1st-Round Pick Will Impact His New Team
The pressure and expectations that come with being a first-round NBA draft pick are the envy of no man. These young basketball players will be expected to impact their teams immediately, however not all will be up for the challenge.
The adjustment from college or international basketball to the NBA is a tough one to make. The speed, style and strength of the American professional game is unparalleled in the world today. It is certainly not an easy league to play in, especially for a 20-year-old male who is more than likely living on his own for the first time.
Not all first-round rookies have great expectations, but most are expected to at least be solid contributors fairly soon into their careers. The really high draft picks, though, are expected to be game-changers from the beginning. Predicting which players will respond positively to the pressure is anything but a science.
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, PF
Anthony Davis is one of the most highly anticipated NBA prospects of the last decade. His defensive prowess and raw ability warrant such anticipation, and he will have an impact on the New Orleans Hornets from almost the very beginning.
Davis will be the franchise big man for the Hornets. He will anchor the defense and make the entire team better in that aspect. He will also make the team better on offense with his passing abilities, and his star power will increase the visibility of the team immediately.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will have a tough time immediately impacting the Charlotte Bobcats. Their lack of supporting talent and losing culture will be difficult for even a player of his character and caliber to overcome.
Kidd-Gilchrist will make the Bobcats better on defense, but he might actually make them worse offensively in the beginning. He has plenty of raw talent, but it will take him time before he can become a star they can build around. That will limit the impact he has in his first season.
3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal, SG
Bradley Beal was the best rebounding guard in the draft, and that is the biggest way he will impact the Wizards. He is a tough player who will not let the rebounding burden fall solely on the shoulders of the frontcourt players.
He is also a well-rounded player who will have an immediate impact on the offensive end as well. Beal can shoot and is a player who does not have to have the ball in his hands all the time to be successful. He will be the perfect complement to John Wall and the rest of the Washington starting lineup.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Dion Waiters, SG
Dion Waiters’ impact will be primarily on Kyrie Irving. The young point guard proved his worth last season, but he was really forced to carry too much of the offensive burden. That is where Waiters will have the biggest impact.
He will give the Cavaliers another ball-handler to use, taking offensive pressure off of Irving. Waiters can create his own shot and shots for others, and his presence will diversify the offense, making Cleveland a much tougher team to defend than it was before.
5. Sacramento Kings: Thomas Robinson, PF
At Kansas, Thomas Robinson was a leader who led with his toughness and hard-working attitude. That is the effect he will have in Sacramento as well. The Kings are a young, talented team, but they lack direction, work ethic and leadership. Those areas are the ones Robinson will have the most impact in.
The power forward has worked for everything he has, and that type of attitude will help turn around a bad Kings locker room. He will also be a great complement to DeMarcus Cousins, who needs a player with defensive and rebounding intensity like Robinson.
6. Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard, PG
LaMarcus Aldridge is clearly a star, but he needs help producing on the offensive end. Damian Lillard will help with that.
The point guard averaged 24.5 points in his last college season for Weber State, and much of that scoring ability will translate over to the NBA.
Lillard is the best point guard in this draft class, and it really is not even close. He will make the Blazers better offensively almost immediately. He can spread the floor from long range and get to the basket and score. Portland will not regret drafting Lillard after seeing the impact he has on their offense.
7. Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes, SF
Harrison Barnes will just add more of the same to the Golden State Warriors. He is a solid scorer and long-range shooter, just like every other perimeter player the team has. While he will give Warriors head coach Mark Jackson another offensive option, he will not make them much better or worse.
Barnes has the potential to be a star, but having to share shots with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee may stunt his growth. However, he does round out a nice Warriors starting five, with those three and Andrew Bogut.
8. Toronto Raptors: Terrence Ross, SG
Terrence Ross is another player who won't have a huge impact on his team. The Raptors already have depth at the wing with players like Landry Fields, DeMar DeRozan and Linas Kleiza. Ross will play, but the main impact he will have is really just to add depth.
The future for Ross is bright, especially as some of those players eventually leave. However, for right now, Ross will merely be a rookie role player. There is nothing wrong with that, but he will not have the same impact as other first-round rookies will have in their first years.
9. Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond, C
Andre Drummond will have a huge impact on the Detroit Pistons during his first season. Budding star Greg Monroe needs to move to the power forward position to really flourish, and the addition of Drummond will allow him to do that.
Drummond is the defensive presence that Monroe could never be, and will help Monroe by taking some of the frontcourt pressure off of him. Drummond will anchor the Pistons defense for years to come, helping to make them one of the best defensive teams in the league.
10. New Orleans Hornets: Austin Rivers, PG
Austin Rivers is a tough player to predict. While he is a very good offensive player, the role of starting point guard is not one that really seems to fit his style of play. Rivers is an isolation scorer and three-point marksman who would really benefit playing off the ball more.
His impact will probably be a bit negative at first, as he is being pushed into the starting point guard position, which really does not play to his strengths. Rivers will have no idea how to run an offense, and the Hornets will suffer because of it. However, he will have a great impact if he is allowed to come off the bench and develop more slowly.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Meyers Leonard, C
The biggest impact Meyers Leonard will have right off the bat is adding depth to a thin Blazers frontcourt. They desperately needed a solid running mate for LaMarcus Aldridge in the frontcourt, and it looks like they have found one.
Leonard's presence will allow Aldridge to move farther away from the basket like he likes to and hit outside jumpers. Leonard will guard the rim, improving the whole team defensively as well as helping out offensively in a limited role. Leonard will make the Blazers quite a bit better immediately.
12. Houston Rockets: Jeremy Lamb, SG
Jeremy Lamb does one thing really well: shoot the ball. His main, immediate function for this team will be spreading the floor for his teammates when he is in the game. Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik will both benefit from having a player like him who can do that.
However, Lamb will only play a bench role, so his impact is really limited depending on how much playing time he will get in Houston. Either way, he adds even more youth to a very young team and adds depth behind Kevin Martin at shooting guard.
13. Phoenix Suns: Kendall Marshall, PG
With the addition of Goran Dragic to the Suns roster in free agency, it appears that Kendall Marshall will be assuming the backup point guard duties. The job is up for grabs between him and Sebastian Telfair, and, ultimately, I believe he will win it.
Marshall’s immediate impact is limited, both by his bench role and by the fact that he will have to learn the Suns’ up-tempo, pick-and-roll offense. However, Marshall does have all the necessary skills to run it.
He is a pass-first point guard who has proven he can run an offense in college without being the focal point. That is exactly the mentality you need to play the point for Phoenix.
14. Milwaukee Bucks: John Henson, PF
When the Milwaukee Bucks shipped off Andrew Bogut for Monta Ellis, it left them pretty thin in the frontcourt. The addition of Samuel Dalembert in a trade with Houston helped at center, and then they drafted John Henson to alleviate those concerns at power forward.
For the money he is being paid, Ersan Ilyasova will most definitely start, so any impact Henson has will have to come from a bench role. Adding depth will probably be the main (and maybe the only) impact Henson has. He has some adjusting to do, and that could take a season or so to happen.
15. Orlando Magic (from Philadelphia): Maurice Harkless, SF
Maurice Harkless was drafted by Philadelphia, only to be traded a few months later in the blockbuster deal that finally got Dwight Howard out of Orlando. Now Harkless is in Orlando, which is actually a much better fit for him in terms of making an impact in his first season.
The Magic have not had an athletic wing like Harkless in a long time. Orlando GM Rob Hennigan is trying to build around cheap, young talent, and Harkless fits the bill. He, along with addition Arron Afflalo, will immediately make the Magic wings more athletic.
16. Houston Rockets: Royce White, PF
The impact that Royce White will have on the Houston Rockets is very difficult to judge. This is a player who looked as though he had major star potential in college but fell this low in the draft due to off-the-court issues.
However, there is no reason to assume he will not overcome those problems. White seems to be a hard worker, and it is clear that he is talented. In his first year, he will probably just add depth, as there are a couple of more experienced power forwards ahead of him on the depth chart.
17. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Dallas): Tyler Zeller, C
Frontcourt depth was not only a major issue for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but for many teams in this draft. To fix that problem, the Cavs traded with the Dallas Mavericks to acquire center Tyler Zeller.
Zeller clearly helps with the depth issues, as the Cavs really only had one other center in Anderson Varejao. Zeller will take some time to develop, so his only immediate impact will probably be improving the depth. In the long term he could potentially be a franchise center, but it is too early to tell right now.
18. Houston Rockets: Terrence Jones, PF
Terrence Jones is the most athletic and has the biggest upside of the three Houston Rockets picks in the first round. He is big, strong and fast, and he can play either small forward or power forward. While for some teams that type of “tweener” status would be a bad thing, Houston is a place where he will be well-utilized.
Jones probably would have been a lottery pick if he had come out a year earlier, so the Rockets picked up really good value here getting him at No. 18. Jones will add depth at first, but he will be starting by the end of the season. He will be a major part of the team’s future, giving Rockets coach Kevin McHale an athleticism at wing that he has wanted for a long time.
19. Orlando Magic: Andrew Nicholson, PF
Andrew Nicholson is a good young power forward who may have future star potential to be capitalized on somewhere down the line. However, his impact with the Orlando Magic will be pretty minimal in his first season.
The reason is the depth chart. The Magic have five power forwards including Glen Davis (the likely starter), Al Harrington, Josh McRoberts, Justin Harper and Nicholson. He may beat out a few of those guys, but even then he is probably looking at third-string as his best-case scenario. In year one, Nicholson simply will not get the playing time needed to make a significant impact.
20. Denver Nuggets: Evan Fournier, SG
Evan Fournier is a good young prospect out of France, but he will make virtually no impact on his team during his rookie year. Similarly to Andrew Nicholson, Fournier is buried on a deep depth chart of good wings.
Andre Iguodala, Corey Brewer, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler will take up the starting and primary backup roles at the two wing positions, making it difficult for a young player like Fournier to break in. He will eventually, but it will probably in a backup role when some of those other wing players have left the team.
21. Boston Celtics: Jared Sullinger, PF
The biggest impact that Jared Sullinger will have immediately is adding depth to the Boston Celtics frontcourt. It may seem like a common trend for teams to need that, and it was during the 2012 NBA draft.
Sullinger is a very high-IQ basketball player who was no risk as this point to draft. His previous injuries are a concern, but they probably will not affect him as much in a backup role with less minutes. He will provide depth at PF behind Brandon Bass and help make the second unit much more lethal.
22. Boston Celtics: Fab Melo, C
The Celtics decided to go frontcourt again here, and I cannot say I blame them. The potential for Fab Melo on the defensive side of the ball is sky-high, and they have time to develop him into that type of player.
His immediate impact will probably not be huge, but he will be the third-team center behind Kevin Garnett and Jason Collins. Depth is important, and that is at least one way he will impact that team in year one. Long-term, his impact could be much, much greater.
23. Atlanta Hawks: John Jenkins, SG
It is unclear just how much playing time John Jenkins will get, especially since the Atlanta Hawks added Lou Williams in free agency. Williams will be the backup shooting guard, so it remains to be seen if that will relegate Jenkins to a third-team role.
If it does, Jenkins will provide depth and nothing more. However, if he gets some playing time, Jenkins will space the floor for an Atlanta team that really needed solid three-point shooting. Jenkins will be a specialist at this level and will excel at that role. When this will happen is the big question, and it is one we cannot answer right now.
24. Dallas Mavericks (from Cleveland): Jared Cunningham, SG
The pick of Jared Cunningham at this point by the Dallas Mavericks was a bit of a head-scratcher, as most projected him to go in the second round. Cunningham is talented, but he is a bit of a combo guard who has great size for the point but plays more like a shooting guard.
Cunningham will have no impact in his first season with Dallas. He is listed as a point guard behind Darren Collison, Delonte West and Rodrigue Beaubois. Even if he was a shooting guard for them, he would probably still be behind O.J. Mayo, Dahntay Jones and Dominique Jones. Cunningham may be a difference-maker in the future, but not in 2012-13.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Wroten, PG
Tony Wroten looked for awhile like he would be the backup point guard in Memphis until the team added free-agent point guard Jerryd Bayless in the offseason. Now, Wroten's ability to impact the team might be almost non-existent.
Wroten does give them depth at the position, and his elite size and athleticism for that position would have been a major mismatch against other teams’ backup point guards. He probably will not have much playing time, unless he is moved to back up the shooting guard or small forward position. He has the size for both, but he will not have the same advantage there as he would have at point.
26. Indiana Pacers: Miles Plumlee, PF
The Indiana Pacers really didn't need much, so they drafted a player in Plumlee who has good character and a good work ethic. He will fit in with their mentality in Indiana very well and should have no problem assimilating to the team culture.
However, his impact will be extremely limited. He will likely be the third-team power forward or center, and we all know those get very little playing time on any team barring an injury. Plumlee could make a bigger impact long-term, but he will make a very small one this season.
27. Philadelphia 76ers (from Miami): Arnett Moultrie, PF
Arnett Moultrie is a talented young big man who can do a bit of everything down low for his team. He is a pretty good scorer down there, which seems to be a difficult thing to teach at this level. However, he will be in a fight for playing time.
Moultrie will probably battle Lavoy Allen for backup minutes behind Spencer Hawes at power forward. Allen is a good player, and it will not be easy to beat him out. However, Moultrie is the more talented player, so if he doesn't win the job, he doesn't deserve it anyway. His impact depends on winning that job.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Perry Jones III, PF
Considered by many to be a lottery-type talent, Perry Jones III slipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder, seemingly forgotten by many of the teams before them. Jones is a very talented athlete who has shown some ability to score down low and can stretch the floor with his jumper.
While he is a valuable addition to the bench, Jones will probably not see much playing time in his first season. The starter at power forward is a guy named Serge Ibaka, and his backup is Nick Collison; both of whom are not going anywhere. Jones will have a future impact, but he will have a minimal one in his first year.
29. Chicago Bulls: Marquis Teague, PG
Marquis Teague was probably brought in as even more point guard insurance for when Derrick Rose is out in 2012-13. Along with Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson, Teague was brought in to bolster the position after the Chicago Bulls lost Rose’s two backups in the offseason.
Teague will not have much of an impact in his first season. He will primarily serve as insurance in case of another point guard injury. However, he could have a huge impact in the long term, as the Bulls may decide to develop him into Rose’s backup for the long haul.
30. Golden State Warriors: Festus Ezeli, C
The Golden State Warriors needed some defense, and Festus Ezeli has the raw tools to help in that area. However, there is no way he will have any impact on this team in his first season. Ezeli is nowhere near ready for that kind of role, but the Warriors don't need him to be a difference-maker just yet.
Ezeli is a future player—not one that will have an impact now. At pick No. 30, it was unlikely the Warriors would find someone who could help them immediately anyway.