Re-Grading the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery Selections at Season's Midway Point
With so much uncertainty about the potential of the 2012 NBA draft lottery prospects, we've now seen them play enough where we can assess each team's selection.
Remember, we're grading the selection, not necessarily the player. This is an evaluation that measures who got the best bang for the buck.
Some of these draft picks haven't been put to use. Their grades are based on the potential they've shown and the value they offer at their particular draft position.
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis was the easy No. 1 pick and the Hornets made the right call by not overthinking it.
He's actually exceeded expectations over the first half of the season, contributing quicker offensively than anyone anticipated.
He gives New Orleans an easy finishing target at the rim, while his length and motor impact possessions on both sides of the ball.
Davis is fulfilling his promise as a shot-blocker, averaging 1.8 swats per game in 28.6 minutes of action.
He's shown the potential and upside of a No. 1 overall pick. He has game-changing attributes and an All-Star ceiling.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
The grade isn't a knock on the player, it's a knock on the selection. Had this pick been made at No. 5, the grade would have been higher.
The Charlotte Bobcats needed to make a splash and missed on two big fish. Without a true point guard or any intimidating presence up front, Charlotte passed on Damian Lillard and Andre Drummond and played it safe with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Kidd-Gilchrist is a nice player with sharp physical tools and dull offensive ones. He's a defensive asset with a constant motor that he uses to go after rebounds and finish at the rim.
But he's not a game-changer at the NBA level, and that's what you want from a No. 2 overall pick. It's hard to give this selection a B knowing they missed on two better options.
3. Washinton Wizards: Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal wasn't NBA-ready, so the inconsistent start shouldn't be too surprising.
When he's played well, Beal has looked like a top selection. He has the ability to spot up from downtown, pull up in the midrange and take athletic drives to the rack.
Beal's offense revolves around the ability to make shots from the perimeter, so an off-game from outside can ruin his day.
He doesn't have the upside of your typical No. 3 overall pick, but not many in this draft class do. Beal was a safe option who should pay dividends once he's surrounded by better playmakers and creators.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Dion Waiters
The Cleveland Cavaliers reached for Dion Waiters at the No. 4 pick in the draft, knowing they got a scorer without knowing his ceiling.
Is this the next Dwyane Wade or J.R. Smith?
Chances are Waiters will score in the 14-to-20-point range for the rest of his career. But his difficult shot arsenal and low-percentage style of offense will likely limit his ceiling to sixth man status. Jamal Crawford, J.R. Smith and Kevin Martin are great scorers, but they can also shoot you out of games if they are relied on to be the top option.
There's nothing wrong with this type of player, but it may not be the value Cleveland was hoping to get when it reached to grab Waiters at No. 4.
5. Sacramento Kings: Thomas Robinson
This was Sacramento's chance to make a big-league play. Without a legitimate long-term point guard, Damian Lillard was placed on a silver platter in front of them with a ribbon tied to his head.
But the Kings went with Thomas Robinson and now they're kicking themselves for it.
Robinson hasn't had many opportunities, mainly because he hasn't earned them. But he doesn't look like the game-changer that Lillard would have been. Robinson seems lost on the offensive end, unsure of how to position himself for scoring opportunities.
This isn't to say he'll be a bust, but the Kings misjudged talent and it will delay their ascent toward relevance.
6. Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard
Anytime you can come out of a draft with a long-term starter, you're scouting department deserves an A. But when that starter turns out to be a star, that's when the rare A+ is given out.
Averaging 18.1 points and 6.5 assists per game, Damian Lillard is producing No. 1 overall value as the No. 6 overall pick.
This was the Blazers' guy from the beginning. Their scouting department was able to do something that the Charlotte Bobcats' and Sacramento Kings' couldn't, which was recognize talent and pull the trigger.
Lillard has proven to be the most NBA-ready player in the draft class, and offers All-Star potential as early as his second year in the league. It's picks like these that make the NBA draft a great event.
7. Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes
This is a generous grade given that Andre Drummond would have been a perfect fit in the Golden State lineup.
But it's tough to blame Golden State, which took a top talent to fill at need at the 3-hole.
Harrison Barnes has been erratic, but he's shown enough promise to warrant No. 7 overall value.
He's going to be an effective two-way player once his confidence is built up and his feel for the game improves. He's shown the ability to shoot, slash and defend sporadically throughout the year. He just needs to tie everything together, which usually takes time.
Barnes was a safe selection for the Warriors.
8. Toronro Raptors: Terrence Ross
Terrence Ross has actually flashed some high-end potential, although his inability to produce consistent minutes has kept him out of the regular rotation.
Toronto was essentially choosing between Ross and Austin Rivers, so props to its scouting department for making the right call.
Ross' electric athleticism and sweet stroke from deep are his strengths. But it's tough to gain rhythm as a shooter when your minutes are spotty, so expect Ross' efficiency to increase as his role expands.
9. Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond
To get this type of value at No. 9 overall deserves a fat, red A+ on the midseason report card.
Andre Drummond has been terrific. He's controlling the glass, blocking shots and finishing at the rim with consistency.
Few players can come into the league and have a physical advantage against opposing frontcourts. At 6'11'' with grown man's strength and young man's athleticism, Drummond is the first one to get his hands on every loose ball around the cylinder.
The transition for Drummond has been seamless, and he hasn't even come close to touching the surface of his potential. If his ceiling is 10 stories high, the elevator is only at the fifth floor.
It appears as if the Pistons got the third-best prospect in the draft at the No. 9 position.
10. New Orleans Hornets: Austin Rivers
The only reason this pick doesn't get an F is because there weren't many other options to choose from 10 picks deep, and Austin Rivers' talent is undeniable.
Sometimes teams make the right move but the player just doesn't pan out. In this case, the pick made no sense to begin with.
Rivers is a ball-dominant scorer, and New Orleans tried to mold him into pass-first point guard. No go.
Not only has that experiment been a disaster, but Rivers has failed to make the transition as a scorer either. He's shooting a horrid 34.1 percent from the floor, 30.6 percent from downtown and 55.3 percent from the stripe.
Maybe that I happened to be watching when he scored 27 points against Minnesota helped him avoid the dreaded F.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Myers Leonard
Myers Leonard hasn't gotten much burn, but he's done his job and flashed potential during limited time.
Leonard is a physical specimen—a 7'1'' athlete with a cut upper body and fluid mobility. He's a glowing finishing target and a space-eater in the paint.
This isn't a guy who will ever command double-teams in the post, but neither is Tyson Chandler, and he's a pretty effective center.
Leonard has a bright future once he starts getting regular minutes and scoring opportunities. The Blazers got solid value here 11 picks into the draft. He should be rotational center in the league for years to come.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Houston): Jeremy Lamb
This was a value grade. The Houston Rockets ultimately used its selection to land star James Harden through a trade. Sounds like a pretty good use of a draft pick to me.
As a player, Jeremy Lamb hasn't gotten much time for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and that's unlikely to change for the next few years. But Lamb can ball, and getting to suit up every day against Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin should be an awesome developmental perk.
Lamb has a sweet three-point stroke and an incredibly smooth scoring repertoire. I'm prematurely labeling him a breakout candidate for the 2015-2016 season.
13. Phoenix Suns: Kendall Marshall
The award for least sensible pick of the 2012 NBA draft goes to the Phoenix Suns, who drafted Kendall Marshall less than two weeks before handing Goran Dragic $34 million.
Marshall was risky to begin with, possessing little athleticism at a position that generally requires it.
Known for his passing, it's going to be tough for him to use it without the ability to get teammates open via dribble creativity.
The Suns had needs at every other position and opted for a backup point guard with a hundred question marks.
Phoenix failed the 2012 draft test.
14. Milwaukee Bucks: John Henson
John Henson has been pleasantly surprising in the limited minutes he's been given.
He put up a 17-point, 18-rebound game against the Heat earlier in the year, a 15-rebound game against Houston and a 20-point, nine-board game against the Spurs. These were the few times all year that Henson was actually given minutes.
Henson had the longest standing reach of any prospect in the 2012 draft class, and it's showing. You don't have to be overly talented when you're this tall and long.
Without many scoring options down low for Milwaukee, you could argue Henson is the team's best offensive big man on the roster.
Milwaukee got excellent value and added a need at the back end of the lottery.