Re-Drafting the 2012 NBA Draft at the Season's Quarter Mark
The 2012-13 NBA season is well underway, and the 2012 draft class is proving to be all over the board when it comes to meeting expectations. What the future holds is up in the air, but there's one thing that we know is certain.
There's no going back now.
A re-drafting of an entire class is a complete impossibility for franchises that made the wrong choice. But luckily for fans and analysts, we aren’t restricted to the same real-life guidelines as NBA owners and general managers.
If you could choose a do-over for any team in the league, who would you choose?
*For the purposes of this re-draft, only players selected in the 2012 NBA draft are eligible.
**All statistics used are accurate as of the morning of Wednesday, December 12, 2012.
No. 1: New Orleans Hornets, Anthony Davis
Original Pick: Anthony Davis
Through the New Orleans Hornets’ first 20 games, Anthony Davis has played seven games due to injuries. This is surely enough of a reason to pass on him with the first overall pick in the NBA draft, right?
Wrong, ladies and gentlemen.
Despite missing more than half of the Hornets’ early-season games, Davis has looked fantastic when he’s been on the court. You have to look at more than just the short-term ramifications when drafting this kid. You must look down the road.
The big man is not only leading all rookies in PER in the 2012-13 season, he’s third in the NBA behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James. His offense is better than expected, and his defense is as good as most reasonable fans thought it would be.
Simply put, Davis is the No. 1 pick every time.
No. 2: Charlotte Bobcats, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Original Pick: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is who we thought he was.
The 6’7” small forward isn’t lighting up the stat sheet in any one area, but he’s doing what’s necessary to have an impact on the court.
His rebounding has been big for the Charlotte Bobcats, his shot-blocking has been impressive, and his overall effort is nothing short of what fans thought they were getting when he was taken second overall in June.
We all know about Kidd-Gilchrist’s shooting woes: He is not a threat from behind the arc. But when you’re as smart as he is, you don’t have to be. He has taken just two three-pointers on the season, and he’s shooting nearly 50 percent from the field.
It’s impressive to see a rookie take advantage of smaller players in the post, and that’s exactly what MKG is doing. He can back down on the block, he can face up at the elbow, and he is part of a rare class of athletes who can both start and finish his own fast break.
No. 3: Washington Wizards, Dion Waiters
Original Pick: Bradley Beal
The No. 1 argument against Dion Waiters is his shot selection. His field-goal percentage is 36.3 percent, his shot selection hasn’t been great, and he is taking 5.5 three-pointers per game despite his ability to get to the rim.
So why would the Washington Wizards reach on a player who was arguably a reach to begin with?
Because Bradley Beal has been even less efficient through the early part of the year.
Beal’s shooting woes were apparent through a good part of his time as a Florida Gator. But a solid performance in the NCAA tournament helped convince people that he was one of the league’s next great shooters.
Waiters hasn’t been the most accurate shooter, but his 15.2 points per game show that he can at least produce, which is something Washington will need even after John Wall finally returns.
No. 4: Cleveland Cavaliers, Harrison Barnes
Original Pick: Dion Waiters
Harrison Barnes hasn’t been spectacular, but he has shown flashes of greatness as he continues to improve.
The Cleveland Cavaliers needed a backcourt mate for Kyrie Irving heading into the draft. At 6’8”, Barnes is more of a small forward, but his skill set makes him dangerous almost anywhere on the perimeter or in transition.
With Bradley Beal still on the board at this point in the draft, you have to believe that the Cavs would take a long, hard look at what he’s done. He and Barnes haven’t been too different up to this point, and either could conceivably excel alongside Irving.
The difference here has to be potential. Both players have it, but Barnes appears to be putting it to use more often. Beal is averaging more points as we approach the New Year, but don’t be surprised if Barnes becomes the clear-cut better prospect by the time their first season comes to a close.
No. 5: Sacramento Kings, Andre Drummond
Original Pick: Thomas Robinson
Thomas Robinson was considered one of the most NBA-ready players in the 2012 draft. But his game has yet to translate in many areas.
If Sacramento had the chance to redo its fifth-overall selection, it should still look at size to play alongside DeMarcus Cousins. But instead of Robinson, Andre Drummond would have to be the pick.
One of the biggest knocks on Drummond entering the year was his over-reliance on his mid-range jumper. He is a monstrous, physical force down low, yet he seemingly had no problem settling for face-up jumpers despite his inefficient shot.
Drummond has apparently taken that criticism to heart, as he’s been aggressive and willing to play above the rim.
Defensively, the big man is posting 1.3 blocks per game, and he’s also averaging 6.2 rebounds. Those numbers may not scream "stardom," but the fact that he is playing just 18 minutes per contest gives you an idea as to how effective he can be.
No. 6: Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard
Original Pick: Damian Lillard
The only reason Damian Lillard is still on the board this far in the re-draft is because no teams ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers—aside from maybe the New Orleans Hornets and the Sacramento Kings—needed a starting point guard. If they did, he’d be long gone.
For the Blazers, there’s no player in this draft they’d rather have than Lillard. The team needed a floor general after the debacle that was the Raymond Felton experiment, and Lillard has been hands-down the best rookie to play every game thus far.
We all knew heading into the draft that he was a scorer, and that hasn’t changed. He’s averaging 18.4 points per game and shooting 36.7 percent from the three-point line, and he is a more-than reliable foul shooter.
What has really impressed people has been his court vision. He is the kind of prospect who can play at virtually any pace, and he is a top-15 player in assists per game.
He’s been just what the Blazers needed heading into the 2012-13 season, and his future appears as bright as anyone’s at this stage of his career.
UPDATE: While stats in this piece are accurate as of Wednesday morning (12/13), note that Lillard dropped a season-high 29 points in the Blazers' 98-90 win over the Spurs. He also added seven boards and six assists.
No. 7: Golden State Warriors, Bradley Beal
Original Pick: Harrison Barnes
Bradley Beal was considered one of the hottest commodities heading into the 2012 NBA draft, and the Golden State Warriors would be foolish not to take him if he lasted this long.
Golden State needed a small forward heading into the draft, and taking a shooting guard ultimately creates a logjam in the backcourt. That being said, the Warriors are well accustomed to playing small ball, and sliding Klay Thompson up to the 3—while not ideal—would allow three backcourt players to create for one of the most dynamic young offenses in the league.
Beal’s shot was supposed to be one of his best assets entering the NBA, but he’s been extremely ineffective in the early stages. The good news about the 2-guard is that he’s not taking bad shots; he’s just missing a majority of them.
Once Beal finds the touch, he’s going to be a threat on the offensive end of the floor.
An offense like Golden State’s throws players into the deep end and makes them learn how to score while playing fast, and that could be just what a player of Beal’s caliber needs.
No. 8: Toronto Raptors, Jared Sullinger
Original Pick: Terrence Ross
Heading into the 2012 NBA draft, Jared Sullinger was considered a major risk. His health was in question, his athleticism was subpar, and his ability to translate right away to the professional level was something that scared scouts who looked his way.
Now through 20 games, Sullinger has proven that he can help make a difference when given the opportunity.
On the glass, Sullinger has been a tough player to stop on the defensive end. He knows how to use his 6’9”, 260-pound frame, which has helped him show the ability to score inside. He has a tendency to clean up missed shots around the rim, and that's something the Raptors could use as the 22nd-ranked rebounding team in the league.
Toronto took Terrence Ross with the No. 8 pick originally, but it’s been DeMar DeRozan who has stepped up and become the go-to option on offense. Sullinger will continue to be a question mark for a while longer, but with DeRozan excelling on the offensive end, the team could use another force down low.
No. 9: Detroit Pistons, John Henson
Original Pick: Andre Drummond
With Andre Drummond off the board, John Henson of North Carolina would be a solid choice for the Detroit Pistons.
Henson is the kind of player you want as a young NBA big. Mentally, he has the basketball know-how to earn time as a rookie. He needs to add weight to his 6’11”, 220-pound frame, but you can work on that as he continues to mature physically.
In just 12 minutes per game, Henson is averaging 5.2 points and 3.3 rebounds and has an impressive PER of 15.10.
A 17-point, 18-rebound performance against the Miami Heat shows what kind of potential he has. Don’t expect showings like that too often, especially in his rookie season. But those types of performances help put on display what kind of impact he can have when things are going right.
No. 10: New Orleans Hornets, Thomas Robinson
Original Pick: Austin Rivers
Drafting two power forwards in the top 10 doesn’t work for everybody on paper, but Thomas Robinson has the potential to be a rugged presence alongside No. 1 pick Anthony Davis.
The New Orleans Hornets originally took Austin Rivers with the 10th pick, and so far, that selection hasn’t worked out. He’s not shooting the ball well, is having trouble adjusting to the pace of the NBA and is posting a team-low PER of just 6.4.
In theory, removing a player from a roster who is averaging 27.7 minutes per contest should drastically alter a team’s production. In New Orleans’ case, it probably helps at this point in the season.
Robinson appears to be slowly coming into his own. The Hornets are just 24th in rebounding, and the power forward from Kansas can certainly attack the glass.
Davis has missed time this year, and it would have been a luxury for New Orleans if it could add a force down low to complement the scoring of Ryan Anderson.
No. 11: Portland Trail Blazers, Andrew Nicholson
Original Pick: Meyers Leonard
The Portland Trail Blazers have the worst bench in the NBA, as they are missing two key elements to their rotation: size and scoring.
Meyers Leonard certainly gives the team size, as he measures 7’1”, but he is not much of a scoring threat in half-court sets. Andrew Nicholson would give the team both elements, as he has a diverse skill set for his 6’9”, 250-pound frame.
In just 14 minutes per game for the Orlando Magic, Nicholson is averaging 7.7 points. He is shooting the ball extremely well, posting a field-goal percentage of 56.5 percent, and his PER reflects his success (18.71).
With the ability to shoot in the mid-range game, he can spread the floor like few others his size. The difference between him and other outside scorers is that he can put the ball on the floor and attack the rim.
He needs to improve his rebounding to become a true power forward, but he would be a great addition to a young Portland squad.
No. 12: Houston Rockets, Terrence Ross
Original Pick: Jeremy Lamb (later traded to Oklahoma City Thunder)
Knowing what we know now, whomever the Houston Rockets choose at No. 12 likely ends up as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Houston traded Jeremy Lamb in the deal that saw it acquire James Harden, which earned the Rockets the superstar they have coveted for so long.
That being said, if Terrence Ross is still on the board when Houston makes its first pick, he likely ends up as the 2-guard who replaces Jeremy Lamb on the preseason roster.
Ross has been stuck behind a lot of talent in Toronto, but that doesn’t excuse his poor shooting percentages. That part of his game needs to improve, and when it does, he could prove to be an integral part of an NBA rotation.
No. 13: Phoenix Suns, Jae Crowder
Original Pick: Kendall Marshall
When the Phoenix Suns drafted Kendall Marshall, it appeared to be a match made in basketball heaven. The North Carolina Tar Heel was arguably the best pure facilitator in the draft, and the Suns were looking for a replacement for superstar point guard Steve Nash.
However, he’s only earned enough minutes to become the fourth-string point guard in Phoenix’s rotation.
One of the surprises of the draft thus far has been Jae Crowder out of Marquette, who has excelled for the Dallas Mavericks. While picking him 13th in the re-draft might seem like a stretch, he is the kind of player who could thrive in Al Gentry’s system.
Crowder doesn’t have the best deep-range shot, but he has relentless energy that can get him up and down the court with apparent ease.
Playing behind Michael Beasley would be an ideal situation for all parties involved. If Beasley is struggling, you have a player who you know will at least give 100-percent effort on both ends of the floor. However, if Beasley is playing well, Crowder can be the guy who comes in and accepts his role by spelling the starters and keeping up the pace.
No. 14: Milwaukee Bucks, Tyler Zeller
Original Pick: John Henson
If the Milwaukee Bucks were unable to land John Henson with the 14th-overall pick, fellow North Carolina Tar Heel Tyler Zeller would have been a good option to add size and athleticism to their frontcourt.
The 7’0”, 250-pound center has done some things extremely well for the Cleveland Cavaliers in his first season. He is running the floor nicely, has shown he can command the ball in fast-break situations and is taking advantage of smaller players on the glass.
It’s no secret that the big man needs to get better in the half-court game, but with Milwaukee running the fifth-fastest pace in the NBA, a player with Zeller’s skill set could find his place in a Brandon Jennings-, Monta Ellis-run offense.
No. 15: Philadelphia 76ers, Maurice Harkless
Original Pick: Maurice Harkless (Traded to Orlando Magic)
Seeing as how the Philadelphia 76ers took Maurice Harkless and turned him into Andrew Bynum, it’s easy to see how they’d take the young small forward in any re-draft situation.
Harkless has played well when he’s seen the floor for the Orlando Magic, and he’s still worthy of a top-15 pick. He has the potential to be one of the top defenders in the 2012 draft class, and he would be a player who fits Doug Collins’ culture.
Harkless has the physical skills to succeed defensively, but he also has a good basketball mind, which is great for a young team.
Philadelphia is continuing to mature despite the absence of Bynum, and a player like Harkless, who can rotate well defensively, is always a welcomed addition.
No. 16: Houston Rockets, Meyers Leonard
Original Pick: Royce White
The Houston Rockets’ main objective in the 2012 offseason was to acquire trade bait. They wanted young talent, and they wanted to flip it for an established NBA superstar.
That being said, Royce White was a gamble, and everybody knew it.
The Rockets play at the fastest pace in the NBA, which is where Meyers Leonard excels. He may be the tallest player in the draft class, but his athleticism and willingness to run has put him in position to score in fast-break situations.
As a true seven-footer (7'1"), Leonard needs to improve his rebounding and shot-blocking. Luckily for Houston, the Rockets have a starter in Omer Asik who can do those things well.
The problem for Houston is that its only backup center is Cole Aldrich. Leonard would undoubtedly see the floor ahead of Aldrich, but he’d still be given time to increase his strength and adjust to the NBA game behind Asik.
No. 17: Dallas Mavericks, Jeffery Taylor
Original Pick: Tyler Zeller (traded to Cleveland Cavaliers)
It’s easy to argue that Jeffery Taylor is only succeeding because he is on the worst team from the 2011-12 season. But he’s shown to be somewhat of a steal, as he was taken with the first pick in the second round of the NBA draft.
Taylor is shooting the ball poorly, but he has the kind of size and hustle that will help complement the go-to scorers on the Dallas Mavericks.
The small forward’s defensive positioning is solid, and his willingness to crash the boards is nice to see even when he can’t come down with the rebounds.
If Dallas misses out on Jae Crowder in the re-draft, Taylor is a solid option to step into the small forward position.
No. 18: Houston Rockets, Terrence Jones
Original Pick: Terrence Jones
Terrence Jones hasn’t been great in his debut NBA season, but he’s begun to show in spurts that he was worthy of a top-20 pick.
At one point, Jones was considered a lottery selection. His talent in undeniable, and his skill set is diverse for a power forward. But he is a bit of a tweener who enjoys the perimeter far too much.
The nice thing for Houston is that he’s been willing to play down low. Many players in his situation stray out to the three-point line early in their careers, but he’s been able to play under the basket, which has been nice, even though he’s only earned 10 minutes per game.
No. 19: Orlando Magic, Festus Ezeli
Original Pick: Andrew Nicholson
Festus Ezeli was the final selection of the first round in 2012, and while he hasn’t done enough to truly boost his draft stock 11 picks, he’s shown that he could contribute to an underrated Orlando Magic team as it builds toward the future.
With Dwight Howard off the roster, Nikola Vicevic is the only true center on the squad. With the Portland Trail Blazers taking Andrew Nicholson in the re-draft, a big man is a complete necessity.
Orlando’s Achilles’ heel is putting the ball in the basket, which unfortunately is not Ezeli's strength. However, he is absolutely going to help defend the paint.
Orlando lost a big shot-blocking presence with the loss of Howard, and the 6’11” Ezeli would at least help make up the ground in that department.
No. 20: Denver Nuggets, Kim English
Original Pick: Evan Fournier
The Denver Nuggets selected Evan Fournier with the No. 20 pick in the 2012 draft, and while he is shooting a solid 52.6 percent from the field, his three-point shooting has been almost nonexistent.
Kim English has only played in 10 games in his rookie season, but he’s shooting 50 percent from behind the arc. He is a deadly shooter with decent size, and while he often struggles to create, he can make defenses pay from deep range.
Despite averaging 100.7 points per game, the Nuggets are just 26th in three-point shooting, and a player who is a threat from long range would help keep defenses honest.
No. 21: Boston Celtics, Austin Rivers
Original Pick: Jared Sullinger
Whether Austin Rivers is deserving of the 21st pick in the draft is questionable at this point in his career. However, if he became available to Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics, it would be virtually impossible for the franchise to turn away the son of its celebrated head coach.
Rivers doesn’t exactly fit the culture of the Celtics, but his one-on-one abilities at least give him the potential to become a go-to option as Paul Pierce fades into the distance.
His shot may not be falling, but he has shown that he can get to the rim, which is always a decent fallback for any isolation player. When he uses his ball-handling skills unselfishly, he can make teams pay.
Boston likely wouldn’t use him immediately, as he’d be stuck behind a talented group of perimeter players and point guards. But you know Danny Ainge would love to take him on as a long-term project.
No. 22: Boston Celtics, Bernard James
Original Pick: Fab Melo
The Boston Celtics selected Fab Melo with the 22nd pick in the 2012 NBA draft, but a much more effective option at center would have been Bernard James.
James was taken early in the second round, but he’s proven that his value on defense is undeniable. He may be playing just 11 minutes per contest, but his PER is an impressive 14.38 and he is nearly averaging a block per game.
With Jared Sullinger off the board in this case, an inside presence becomes necessary. James isn’t going to do much on offense, but he will continue to add to the defensive culture that Doc Rivers has instilled.
No. 23: Atlanta Hawks, Kendall Marshall
Original Pick: John Jenkins
The Atlanta Hawks made a number of moves this summer, and bringing in Kendall Marshall would have been a solid acquisition for a team with two point guards with expiring contracts.
Marshall has been buried on the bench in Phoenix, and he’s yet to show he’s even worthy of a first-round pick. That being said, he was considered the best facilitator in college for a reason, and a team like Atlanta would give him time to grow.
Marshall is the kind of player who isn’t going to affect the scoring column, but his ability to find open players and create open looks could have a positive effect on a team’s point-per-game average.
The rookie point guard needs minutes to get better, and a team where he knows spots are opening sooner rather than later would be a good situation.
No. 24: Cleveland Cavaliers, Kyle O’Quinn
Original Pick: Jared Cunningham (traded to Dallas Mavericks)
With Tyler Zeller belonging to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Cleveland Cavaliers only have Jon Leuer, Samardo Samuels and Kevin Jones as frontcourt reserves. They need another big man in this re-draft, and that big man is going to be Kyle O’Quinn.
O’Quinn is only averaging six minutes per game, but to be completely honest, there aren’t many bigs left who are even worthy of first-round consideration.
The 6’10” power forward has a ridiculous PER of 21.99, but don’t put too much weight into that number just yet. His shot-blocking numbers are impressive—he’s averaging 0.7 blocks in just six minutes—but they're also the reason his numbers are so drastically inflated.
Another option here is Miles Plumlee, who was selected ahead of O’Quinn in June's draft.
No. 25: Memphis Grizzlies, Jeremy Lamb
Original Pick: Tony Wroten Jr.
The Memphis Grizzlies selected Tony Wroten Jr. with their first-round pick in the 2012 draft, but they have gotten virtually no production out of him, as they’ve played him in just three games at 2.7 minutes per contest.
Jeremy Lamb’s draft stock has clearly dropped since the days when he was a lottery selection, but we all know that he has a scorer somewhere inside of him.
The 25th overall pick in the re-draft may seem a bit low if you haven’t watched him play. But fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder can attest to how lost he’s looked at times out on the court. His shot hasn’t fallen, his passes haven’t been sharp, and he has been about as far from elite defensively as a rookie can get.
All that being said, if Lamb somehow managed to land in the laps of the Grizzlies, Memphis would be hard-pressed not to take him. He has the ability to score, and with Wayne Ellington as the backup 2-guard, having more firepower can only be a good thing.
No. 26: Indiana Pacers, Jared Cunningham
Original Pick: Miles Plumlee
Outside of rookie Orlando Johnson, the Indiana Pacers don’t have a true backup shooting guard on their roster.
Enter Jared Cunningham.
The former Oregon State Beaver was a surprise pick on draft day, as he was chosen 24th by the Cleveland Cavaliers and traded to the Dallas Mavericks. His production hasn’t been first-round worthy just yet, but he has the athleticism to be productive if he can improve his overall game.
The Pacers already have Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Pendergraph in their second unit, so removing Miles Plumlee isn’t a drastic move. And while Cunningham’s game isn’t making him a star any time soon, he would help add balance to a team that has more forwards than anything else on its bench.
No. 27: Miami Heat, Draymond Green
Original Pick: Arnett Moultrie (traded to Philadelphia 76ers)
The Miami Heat don’t need a great player to back up LeBron James at small forward. Someone who can add toughness and do the little things necessary to win would be an ideal fit on an already talented roster.
Green is the kind of player who isn’t going to beat people with his athleticism, but he can utilize his size to take advantage of weaker players on the low block. He is a good rebounder, and while he is struggling defensively, his minutes would be limited in Miami.
Green may never be a star in the NBA, but for a team that needs role players in its second unit, he is well worth the risk of a late first-round pick.
No. 28: Oklahoma City Thunder, Darius Miller
Original Pick: Perry Jones III
Like the Miami Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder don’t need an All-Star backing up the small forward position. Perry Jones III has been more bust than boom thus far—although there’s plenty of time for him to turn that around—and a more efficient Darius Miller might be a safer option.
Miller is only taking 1.2 three-pointers per game in the 2012-13 season, but he is making a solid 36.4 percent from deep.
At 2.1 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists, he’s not going to blow anybody away, but he has the skills to be a decent point forward behind the stars on a growing squad in a tough Western Conference.
No. 29: Chicago Bulls, Marquis Teague
Original Pick: Marquis Teague
The Chicago Bulls needed a point guard to stay competitive in the 2012-13 season, and while Marquis Teague hasn't stood out yet as an NBA rookie, the point guard class has proven to be weak outside of Damian Lillard.
Tony Wroten Jr. is a viable option here, but the truth is that we know even less about him than we do about Teague. Wroten has played in just three games, having averaged just 2.7 minutes per contest.
Teague may or may not be the long-term solution at the backup point guard spot, but his talent is what keeps him in the first round. He is a quick guard who can get to the basket, and while he has trouble finishing, that's something that can come with time and training.
The Bulls rookie has only played double-digit minutes twice, but he has the skill set to some day play behind one of the best point guards in the game in Derrick Rose.
No. 30: Golden State Warriors, Perry Jones III
Original Pick: Festus Ezeli
Perry Jones III is worthy of first-round consideration based on talent alone, but he has yet to prove he should have been taken higher than No. 28 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Jones has looked a bit lost when he’s hit the floor, as the question of whether he’s a small forward or a power forward still lingers. He has the skill set to play out on the perimeter, but he’s also athletic enough to make a difference down on the block.
In Golden State’s offense, Jones would be able to get out and run and play on the perimeter where he’s most comfortable. It’s no secret that the team likes to play fast, and he would likely stand out without a player at his position named Kevin Durant.