Re-Drafting the 2012 NBA Draft, Midseason Edition
The midway point of the NBA season provides us with a good place to pause and evaluate the progress of the league's newest rookie class, one comprised of rising stars like Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard.
While several rookies continue to exceed expectations, there are a handful of disappointing first-year products who have struggled to get acclimated with the professional experience.
In contrast, there have been a number of second-round picks who have capitalized on fresh opportunities, wedging their way into rotations as veterans have faltered or been forced to sit for extended minutes due to injuries.
1. New Orleans Hornets, Anthony Davis
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Original Pick: Anthony Davis
Despite being hobbled by injuries throughout the first half of his rookie campaign, Anthony Davis would still be the pick by the New Orleans Hornets were the team granted a mulligan.
Davis has flashed immense promise for Monty Williams' squad and has been a part of a lethal platoon at power forward with sharpshooter Ryan Anderson.
Averaging 12.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, Davis has impressed at the young age of 19, and is simply oozing with potential.
Davis has been efficient to boot, leading the Hornets with a PER of 20.77.
2. Charlotte Bobcats, Andre Drummond
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Original Pick: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
No one faults the Charlotte Bobcats for selecting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist over Andre Drummond. Heck, six other teams passed on Drummond after the Bobcats, and rightfully so.
The book on Drummond coming out of UConn was that he was too raw, too unpredictable and, at times, too lazy.
However, Drummond has proved all of his detractors wrong with a first-half for the ages.
Let's go to the numbers. According to Basketball-Reference, Drummond is averaging 13.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 1.6 steals per 36 minutes.
Still don't think he's for real? Drummond has the second-highest win shares per 48 minutes among rookies, coming in at .200 (the league average is approximately .100, per Basketball-Reference).
Those numbers are good enough to have Drummond in the thick of the Rookie of the Year chase, and should head coach Lawrence Frank reward his big man with more playing time, he could ultimately capture the hardware.
3. Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal
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Original Pick: Bradley Beal
It was a rocky start for Washington Wizards rookie Bradley Beal, but at 19 years old, his early-season struggles were understandable.
There wasn't much cohesion on a Wizards team that was without John Wall for the first couple of months of the season, but since the point guard's return, Beal has flourished.
Although his overall shooting percentage is still well below average (38.9 percent), Beal has found a rhythm from beyond the arc, shooting 35.5 percent from deep while hitting on 49 percent of his three-point attempts from the corner, per NBA.com.
Given the team's need for a legitimate marksman back in June, the Beal pick is one the Wizards can begin to take pride in.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers, Harrison Barnes
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Original Pick: Dion Waiters
One of the 2012 NBA draft's biggest surprises was the Cleveland Cavaliers reaching for shooting guard Dion Waiters at the No. 4 spot.
Waiters and the Cavs were making doubters look foolish throughout the season's first month, as the Syracuse product lit it up alongside Kyrie Irving. However, Waiters has become known as an erratic shooter, one who is shooting below 40 percent from the field and below 33 percent from three-point range.
With the benefit of hindsight, a better fit for the Cavs would have been swingman Harrison Barnes, whose athleticism and 6'8'' frame could have aided Byron Scott's bunch on the defensive end. In addition to playing excellent perimeter defense, Barnes has been shooting a decent 42.8 percent from the field and an impressive 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.
With C.J. Miles and now Wayne Ellington to hold down the fort at shooting guard, Barnes could have been a nice upgrade at small forward over current starter Alonzo Gee.
5. Sacramento Kings, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
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Original Pick: Thomas Robinson
The Sacramento Kings entered the 2012 draft in need of a versatile swingman, and instead of addressing that need, they jumped at the opportunity to draft Thomas Robinson, who fell into their laps at No. 5.
While Kidd-Gilchrist struggled to adjust to the pace of the pro game at first, he's come on slowly, putting defense before offense as a means of helping the Charlotte Bobcats.
According to Basketball-Reference, MKG is averaging 13.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and one steal per 36 minutes, all while shooting a respectable 48.1 percent from the field.
Kidd-Gilchrist's jumper could still use some work though, as he's shooting just 25 percent from mid-range, per NBA.com.
6. Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard
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Original Pick: Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers have been a match made in heaven, as head coach Terry Stotts has shown no hesitation in forking over the keys to the offense to his rookie point guard.
Lillard is the consensus front-runner for the league's Rookie of the Year award, and he has earned that label as he leads all rookies with averages of 18.3 points and 6.5 assists per game.
The Blazers are firmly in the hunt for the No. 8 playoff seed in the Western Conference, and they have Lillard's play to thank for that.
With Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, the Blazers are quickly emerging as one of the Western Conference's more compelling young teams.
7. Golden State Warriors, Dion Waiters
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Original Pick: Harrison Barnes
With Harrison Barnes off the board, the Golden State Warriors settle for the next best thing and scoop up Dion Waiters.
Granted, the Warriors are already loaded with shooters in the form of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but Waiters plays with the energy necessary to provide a big spark off the bench.
Waiters has been given a sizable role in the Cleveland offense, but were he given the keys to the second unit out in the Bay Area, perhaps his efficiency and effectiveness could have spiked.
One of the draft's few volume scorers, Waiters is averaging 14.4 points per game (second among all rookies) despite shooting 38 percent from the field.
8. Toronto Raptors, John Henson
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Original Pick: Terrence Ross
Due to Andrea Bargnani's slew of injuries, the Toronto Raptors have had to lean heavily on Ed Davis for production at power forward.
And while Davis has performed admirably, having John Henson in tow could have eased some of the pressure on the third-year big. Henson, whose efficiency (PER of 17.57) has been praised, has looked sharp, although he still needs to add some muscle to his wiry 6'11'', 220-pound frame in order to become a big-time post presence.
The rangy Henson is racking up 6.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in a meager 12.8 minutes per game, making him one of the hidden gems of this year's rookie class.
Think those numbers aren't impressive? They translate to a staggering 16.9 points and 12 rebounds per 36 minutes.
9. Detroit Pistons, Jared Sullinger
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Original Pick: Andre Drummond
Considered an injury risk by a number of teams, Jared Sullinger saw his stock tumble in the weeks leading up to the draft and was ultimately selected 21st overall by the Boston Celtics.
Since then, Sullinger has done a nice job of proving detractors wrong, averaging 6.1 points and 6.0 rebounds, even receiving a promotion into the team's starting lineup in recent days. While Sullinger's skill set is similar to that of teammate Brandon Bass, the former Ohio State Buckeye has capitalized on Bass' down year, shooting 49.3 percent from the field compared to 44.1 percent for Bass.
With potential studs Andre Drummond and John Henson off the board, the Pistons snag one of the most NBA-ready players available in Sullinger. The real question is, would head coach Lawrence Frank have been more generous doling out playing time to Sullinger than he has been with Drummond?
10. New Orleans Hornets, Terrence Ross
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Original Pick: Austin Rivers
Terrence Ross hasn't been as good as advertised coming out of the University of Washington, but then again, neither has Austin Rivers, the player selected by the New Orleans Hornets at No. 10 overall.
A superb athlete (if he's not in the Slam Dunk Contest, it will be a major disappointment), Ross has made more flashy plays off the bounce this season than he has from behind the arc, where he was originally projected to make a profound impact for the Toronto Raptors.
Ross is shooting 34.1 percent from deep this season to go with a mark of 41.2 percent from the field— numbers which are hardly great, but not particularly bad either. Compared to what Rivers is accomplishing in the Big Easy, Ross would have been a nice upgrade at backup shooting guard.
11. Portland Trail Blazers, Thomas Robinson
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Original Pick: Meyers Leonard
Back in June, the Portland Trail Blazers went small at pick No. 6 with Damian Lillard and followed that up by selecting University of Illinois' Meyers Leonard at 11.
They'll do the same in the re-draft, going big with Thomas Robinson, as he falls out of the top 10.
Entering the draft, there seemed to be a general consensus that Robinson had one of the most complete skill sets of all the entrants, and was arguably the safest pick on the board thanks to his three years of experience at Kansas.
Robinson was selected No. 5 overall by the Sacramento Kings, but he's had a hard time finding his footing, averaging just 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game.
Struggling for playing time behind a loaded frontcourt comprised of DeMarcus Cousins, Chuck Hayes and Jason Thompson, it's clear that Robinson is facing an uphill climb in Sacramento.
12. Houston Rockets, Jeremy Lamb
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Original Pick: Jeremy Lamb (Traded to Oklahoma City)
We'll stick with Jeremy Lamb as the pick here, as he was ultimately part of the package that netted the Houston Rockets James Harden.
Since arriving in Oklahoma City, Lamb has bounced around between the big club and the D-League, where he has posted impressive scoring numbers.
Playing for the Tulsa 66ers, Lamb has averaged 21.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
While there doesn't appear to be a permanent spot on the Thunder roster for Lamb just yet, some moving and shaking this summer may provide some clarity about his future.
13. Phoenix Suns, Meyers Leonard
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Original Pick: Kendall Marshall
Despite getting off to an 2-2 start under new head coach Lindsey Hunter, the Phoenix Suns roster is still a complete mess. With a collection of former lottery picks that have since gone bust, the Suns could use some stability—and fast.
What's in need of a fix is the frontcourt depth, as the Suns have no sure things aside from starters Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat. A prospective building block for the Phoenix front line could have come in the form of Meyers Leonard, the versatile seven-footer with a world of potential.
Averages of 4.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game haven't been spectacular, but situated in Phoenix, the rookie likely would have seen more minutes than he has in Portland.
14. Milwaukee Bucks, Andrew Nicholson
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Original Pick: John Henson
Andrew Nicholson burst onto the national scene during his senior season at St. Bonaventure, capturing the Atlantic 10's Player of the Year award while leading the Bonnies to an NCAA tournament berth.
As Nicholson's national profile grew, so did his draft stock, and he was ultimately selected 19th overall by the Orlando Magic.
Just as he did throughout his collegiate career, Nicholson is surprising at the professional level, averaging 7.4 points and 3.2 rebounds per game to complement an above-average PER of 15.95.
With John Henson off the board here and the Bucks looking to add depth to their talented frontcourt, Nicholson feels like the most logical fit.
15. Philadelphia 76ers, Maurice Harkless
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Original Pick: Maurice Harkless (Traded to Orlando)
Just like Jeremy Lamb and the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia sticks with Moe Harkless here as he helped them score Andrew Bynum in a blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic.
Ironically, Harkless has had more of an impact for his new team than Bynum has (that is to say, any impact), although he hasn't quite excelled on a young Orlando team.
Much like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Harkless is a stingy defender whose jump shot needs significant work, but he's adept at getting to the rim and scoring with his unique combination of speed and size.
Harkless is shooting a solid 49.2 percent from the field, but he's averaging a lowly 3.8 points in 15.7 minutes per game.
16. Houston Rockets, Jeff Taylor
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Original Pick: Royce White
It would be difficult for the Houston Rockets to make a more frustrating pick than the one they spent on Royce White in June. While there has been some positive news in recent days regarding White's status, the entire situation has been one the Houston Rockets regret getting themselves into in the first place.
Although he was selected 31st overall by the Charlotte Bobcats, Jeff Taylor has proven his worth, excelling on defense in tandem with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
In addition to stellar defense, Taylor has been true on 35.9 percent of his three-point attempts this season, putting him in the same company as Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard.
With the Rockets looking for some help for their 27th-ranked scoring defense, Taylor is a nice, safe pick here.
17. Dallas Mavericks, Tyler Zeller
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Original Pick: Tyler Zeller (Traded to Cleveland)
The Dallas Mavericks' plan isn't quite working the way Mark Cuban envisioned. The concept was great, but the execution was not.
After signing a host of veterans to short-term deals in hopes of tiding his team over for a splash in the 2013 summer, Cuban has put his team in a hole. O.J. Mayo has exceeded expectations, but vets like Chris Kaman, Elton Brand and Darren Collison have been average at best.
Had the Mavs stuck with Tyler Zeller before trading him to Cleveland, they would have had a young frontcourt piece around to learn from Kaman and Brand. And, more importantly, to be a part of an otherwise uncertain future in Dallas.
Zeller has double-double potential each time he steps on the floor, contributing 8.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and one block per game in 41 games (and 19 starts) for the Cavaliers.
18. Houston Rockets, Terrence Jones
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Original Pick: Terrence Jones
With their third and final pick in the first round, the Houston Rockets saw an opening to draft a player based strictly on potential, and did so in selecting Kentucky's Terrence Jones at No. 18 overall.
That logic holds up in the re-draft, as well.
While Jones has spent more time in the D-League than Houston, he possesses the sort of upside that makes him a worthy selection in the middle of the first round.
Jones is just one of several young assets the Rockets have collected over the years, but that doesn't mean he won't eventually get his shot in the limelight.
What the Rockets hope Jones brings to the team is a gritty performance night in and night out to complement a tough, team-first attitude.
19. Orlando Magic, Festus Ezeli
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Original Pick: Andrew Nicholson
Along with Jared Sullinger, Jeff Taylor and Andre Drummond, Festus Ezeli is one of the biggest risers in our midseason re-draft.
Ezeli was originally selected with the last pick in Round 1 by Golden State, a team with which he has taken on a sizable role. Although his minutes continue to hover below 20 per game, Ezeli has started 38 of a possible 42 games in his rookie campaign.
Ezeli has been a quality defensive stopper above all else, recording 2.2 blocks and 9.1 rebounds per 36 minutes, according to Basketball-Reference.
With Andrew Nicholson gone to the Bucks five picks earlier, Ezeli is a nice consolation for the Magic.
20. Denver Nuggets, Austin Rivers
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Original Pick: Evan Fournier
Austin Rivers has been downright putrid in his first season out of Duke. Selected 10th overall by the Hornets, it appeared as if things were trending up in the Big Easy, with the formidable duo of Rivers and Anthony Davis poised to carry the franchise for years to come.
However, Rivers has struggled to adapt to the pro game, and failed to capitalize on a number of starting opportunities when Eric Gordon was sidelined with a knee injury.
Since his failed trial as a starter, Rivers has been wrestling with Roger Mason for backup duties. Rivers' PER remains in the single-digits (5.22), with no signs of an upward swing coming.
The pick by Denver here has to do with the Nuggets' lack of depth behind Andre Iguodala. And, theoretically, Rivers could be a nice fit as a high-energy, score-first guard off of the bench on a winning team.
21. Boston Celtics, John Jenkins
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Original Pick: Jared Sullinger
It appeared as if the Boston Celtics' biggest need was frontcourt depth. They addressed said problem by selecting Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo with back-to-back picks in the first round of the NBA draft.
And while the Celtics continue to make due with their undersized bigs, they've encountered a bigger problem: Shooting.
Paul Pierce is shooting a miserable 35.9 percent over his last 10 games, while free-agent acquisition Jason Terry continues to flop to the tune of 9.9 points per game and 42.3 percent shooting from the field.
The solution to the problem? With all of the quality big men off the board, the Celtics take a chance on Vanderbilt marksman John Jenkins, the purest shooter of the 2012 draft class.
Although he's seen relatively few opportunities with the Atlanta Hawks, Jenkins is shooting comparable percentages from the field (42.3 percent) and from beyond the arc (41.3 percent).
22. Boston Celtics, Draymond Green
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Original Pick: Fab Melo
At 6'7'' and 230 pounds, Draymond Green is what many would call a tweener at the NBA level, having the raw size to play in the post, while possessing the range to stretch his game out beyond the paint.
Selected at No. 35 overall by the Golden State Warriors, Green has appeared in all 43 games this season, averaging a decent 14.3 minutes per contest.
Despite being listed behind studs like David Lee and Carl Landry on the depth chart, Green has shown enough to wedge his way into Mark Jackson's rotation, as he has earned a great deal of respect from his coach in his rookie year.
With one of the league's older teams, Doc Rivers and the Celtics jump at a chance to get a young, energetic player to stash on their bench.
23. Atlanta Hawks, Jae Crowder
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Original Pick: John Jenkins
Jae Crowder is another second-round pick who has made the most of his opportunities, using his raw athletic ability to snag 17.4 minutes per game in Rick Carlisle's carousel of a rotation.
At 22 years old, Crowder is one of the older rookies in this year's class. His maturity has served him well as he was thrust into a significant role early in the season with Dirk Nowitzki sidelined.
One issue for Crowder is his shooting touch. He has converted on a just 37.4 percent of his looks from the field, although he still has time to fix the few hiccups in his form.
With John Jenkins off the board, the Hawks are pleased with the opportunity to add Crowder, a versatile 6'6'' forward who can run in Larry Drew's up-tempo attack.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers, Fab Melo
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Original Pick: Jared Cunningham (Traded to Dallas)
The Cleveland Cavaliers frontcourt was thin with Anderson Varejao healthy, but now that the Brazilian center is officially out for the remainder of the regular season, we can provide a little help for Byron Scott and Co. in the form of center Fab Melo.
Melo is undoubtedly a project at the professional level, but his potential is enough for teams to ignore some of his offensive shortcomings.
Coming out of Syracuse, Melo was considered to be primarily a shot-blocker and rebounder, and he has shown that he's capable of being that in the NBA.
Using minutes in the D-League to his advantage, Melo is quickly emerging, averaging 11.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game for the Maine Red Claws.
25. Memphis Grizzlies, Tony Wroten
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Original Pick: Tony Wroten
When the Memphis Grizzlies drafted point guard Tony Wroten, it appeared as if they were drafting for the future.
However, the Grizzlies' recent trade of Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby has Wroten in the mix for regular minutes in the Memphis backcourt.
Since being promoted, Wroten is averaging an impressive 7.3 points and 2.7 assists over his last five games.
Wroten excels handling the basketball and has above-average court vision and instincts, making him a viable backup point guard to Mike Conley in the long term.
Should Wroten develop his ghastly jump shot to the point where it's merely serviceable, the Grizzlies will have a steal on their hands at No. 25 overall.
26. Indiana Pacers, Evan Fournier
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Original Pick: Miles Plumlee
Given Danny Granger's extended absence and the Indiana Pacers' overall lack of depth at shooting guard (sorry, Lance Stephenson and Orlando Johnson), an appropriate selection at No. 26 overall would appear to be Evan Fournier, the 20-year-old sharpshooter out of France.
Fournier was, and still is, unknown to many casual fans, but he's come on over the last week or so, averaging 8.5 points per game over his last five contests.
Not only that, but Fournier is shooting 49.2 percent from the field, which ranks eighth among all rookies (and first among guards).
Although he has yet to crack the 10-minute-per-game threshold, Fournier is showing he has value to the Nuggets as a complementary shooter behind starter Andre Iguodala.
27. Miami Heat, Perry Jones
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Original Pick: Arnett Moultrie (Traded to Philadelphia)
The Miami Heat are set as far as depth goes, with veterans like Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Rashard Lewis and Mike Miller holding down the fort, so they can afford to draft for high upside this late in the first round.
That's why with the 27th pick, the Heat jump on Baylor's Perry Jones, whose time learning from vets like Allen and Battier could serve him well in the long run.
With so many miles racked up on the legs of the Heat's vets, selecting Jones makes sense. A player of his youth and versatility is a sight largely unseen on Erik Spoelstra's bench.
Jones has yet to make an impact with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but they fall into the same category as the Heat, possessing significant veteran depth and no need for a first-year project.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder, Will Barton
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Original Pick: Perry Jones
Like the Miami Heat one pick before them, the Oklahoma City Thunder are not exactly in the market for an immediate contributor.
Instead, they're drafting based on long-term potential, selecting someone who could contribute in a year or two.
Enter Will Barton (selected at No. 40 overall by Portland), the shooting guard who has quietly racked up minutes typically reserved for first-rounders (402 minutes).
Barton possesses potential, but he needs to bulk up from his current weight of 170 pounds in order to become a more physically imposing shooting guard at the professional level.
29. Chicago Bulls, Darius Miller
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Original Pick: Marquis Teague
The Chicago Bulls' original plan to go out and draft a young point guard to help ease the burden of losing Derrick Rose made perfect sense.
However, Marquis Teague hasn't had many opportunities to strut his stuff. Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson have received the lion's share of the minutes at point guard.
While the Bulls' pick will change, the alma mater of said pick does not.
Kentucky's Darius Miller is an active body, one whom the Bulls could use on the perimeter to take some of the onus off of Luol Deng and his league-leading 39.8 minutes per game.
30. Golden State Warriors, Bernard James
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Original Pick: Festus Ezeli
At 6'10'' and 240 pounds, Bernard James is a tad undersized for an NBA center, but he's made the most of limited minutes in a crowded Dallas Mavericks frontcourt.
Fighting for playing time with veterans Elton Brand, Chris Kaman and Brandan Wright, James has managed to post averages of 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in just 10.9 minutes of work per game, leaving him with a respectable PER of 15.31.
According to Basketball-Reference, James' numbers project quite well over 36 minutes. He would be on pace to average 11.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per game were his production sustained in a larger role.
With nearly every other serviceable big man off the board, the Warriors are content selecting James with the final pick in the first round.