Re-Drafting the First Round of 2012 NBA Draft: End of Season Edition

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2013

Re-Drafting the First Round of 2012 NBA Draft: End of Season Edition

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    As the regular season draws to a close, it's time to look back at the 2012 NBA draft and see what teams would have done differently.

    We know Anthony Davis and Bradley Beal would still get picked high on the board, but what about the rest of their lottery companions? 

    Several rookies would slip into the bottom half of the first round, with a couple of second-round choices landing in the first round of the re-draft.

    A few changes in the top 10 would cause a domino effect. How would your team fare?

     

    *For the purposes of this re-draft, only players selected in the 2012 NBA draft are eligible.

    *Re-draft is based primarily on players' rookie-year performances and team needs.

1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets

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    Original Pick: Anthony Davis

    Despite Anthony Davis' intermittent injuries (including his recent MCL sprain) throughout 2012-13, the New Orleans Hornets would gladly draft him again.

    He proved to be worthy of the top overall selection, as he influenced the game on both ends of the floor. Davis' offense wasn't highly advanced or dominant, but he shot 52 percent from the field and posted a 113 Offensive Rating.

    Already one of the best young stoppers in the game, Davis forced bushels of turnovers every night. In his modest 28.8 minutes per game, he blocked 1.8 shots and grabbed 1.2 steals.

    If he stumbles through his sophomore campaign with injuries, then feelings of regret will start to creep in. But for now, he's the real deal.

2. Charlotte Bobcats, Andre Drummond

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    Original Pick: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

    In the fall of his freshman year at Connecticut, Andre Drummond was widely projected to be a No. 1 or No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft.

    His stock fell during his Huskies' underwhelming season, but it looks like the pre-draft concerns were unwarranted—or at least not substantial enough to outweigh his tremendous potential. He's indeed worthy of top-five consideration.

    The Charlotte Bobcats didn't necessarily make a bad selection with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but they would welcome a do-over to bring someone as physically dominant as Drummond into their lineup. He's snatching 13.6 rebounds per 36 minutes and reminding everyone why he was an elite prospect to begin with.

3. Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal

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    Original Pick: Bradley Beal

    It was a rough first couple months for Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, but once John Wall returned, we began to see the gifted shooting guard Ernie Grunfeld envisioned.

    In addition to an uptick in shooting percentage, he also became significantly more comfortable as a passer, defender and rebounder. Beal was capable of attacking the gaps in the opponents' defense, not limiting himself to outside jumpers.

    The highlight was a red-hot February that included 17.5 points per game and 48-percent shooting.

    Provided they can stay healthy, Beal and John Wall will form one of the league's best backcourts for the next half-dozen seasons.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers, Dion Waiters

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    Original Pick: Dion Waiters

    The Cleveland Cavaliers raised a bunch of eyebrows when they selected Dion Waiters in the top five last June.

    It seemed like a reach at the time, and in the first couple months of the 2012-13 season it looked like he would be a bigger project than the Cavs anticipated.

    Then he took his game to a higher level after New Year's, taking better shots and getting to the free-throw line more often. His playmaking skills shined when Kyrie Irving was sidelined.

    In the end, he was worth the risky pick and figures to be a cornerstone of the franchise's revival.

5. Sacramento Kings, Harrison Barnes

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    Original Pick: Thomas Robinson

    With a roster bloated with combo guards and a failed Thomas Robinson experiment fresh in their memory, the Sacramento Kings have the greatest need for a legitimate versatile small forward.

    Enter North Carolina product Harrison Barnes, who proved he can contribute on a Western Conference playoff club.

    His 6'8" frame and athleticism makes him competitive against almost any swingman, and his offensive game has expanded far beyond the jump shot.

    Barnes' quiet strength and 53 percent true shooting would be a terrific addition to a struggling franchise.

6. Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard

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    Original Pick: Damian Lillard

    A soft-spoken, high-scoring guard from Weber State was the Portland Trail Blazers' ideal choice in the first go-round, and he's equally coveted in this re-draft scenario.

    Damian Lillard has fit beautifully with Terry Stott's system and his lineup. The 22-year-old was empowered to run the offense and be creative, and he did just that.

    More impressive than Lillard's 19 points and 6.5 assists per game is his poise and leadership. He and LaMarcus Aldridge were able to do a hefty amount of damage on the Western Conference, and they'll do even more in 2013-14 when an upgraded supporting cast surrounds them.

    Lillard would be a strong candidate to get plucked by the Sacramento Kings at No. 5, but the club already has the potential of up to four point guards being on the payroll in 2013-14.

7. Golden State Warriors, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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    Original Pick: Harrison Barnes

    Picking up Harrison Barnes was a solid move in the real 2012 draft, but since he's already off the board in this version, the Golden State Warriors have their sights set on a different small forward.

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist doesn't provide the long-range skills Barnes possesses, but he has pretty much everything else. His hard work and relentlessness would be highly valued by Mark Jackson, especially if it could help build a culture of better defense on the Dubs.

    Offensively, he's miles from ready, but he handles himself well in transition and when he's attacking the bucket.

8. Toronto Raptors, Meyers Leonard

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    Original Pick: Terrence Ross

    If Toronto Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo had a mulligan on this one, he'd likely draft a big man to remedy his lack of depth in the paint.

    Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson need some help inside. Meyers Leonard is a phenomenal prospect, as his size brings an immediate impact, while his skill development makes strides for the future. Leonard has double-double potential, with the ability to finish strong close to the rim and also drill mid-range jumpers.

    Two years ago, he was buried on the bench at Illinois. Now, he's a sought-after NBA low-post anchor.

9. Detroit Pistons, John Henson

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    Original Pick: Andre Drummond

    Since Andre Drummond and Meyers Leonard have already been plucked, the Detroit Pistons will put their trust in the next-best big man.

    John Henson didn't get the kind of attention Drummond and Tyler Zeller received, but his per-minute production was magnificent. He saw just 12.3 minutes of action per game, and he made the most of it, notching 5.5 points and 4.4 boards.

    Physically, he's not as imposing as some of the other bigs in this draft class, but he knows where to catch the ball in prime position and use his length. He and Greg Monroe would thrive if paired together for a couple years.

10. New Orleans Hornets, Terrence Ross

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    Original Pick: Austin Rivers

    Although he picked up some steam prior to his hand injury, Austin Rivers didn't end up as a good fit with the New Orleans Hornets. He shot the ball poorly and was rarely in rhythm with his comrades.

    Now that general manager Dell Demps has another crack at it, he would choose someone with a similar position as Rivers, but more athleticism and upside.

    Terrence Ross hasn't been the most effective wing, but when his shot is clicking, he can score in bunches. Just ask the Philadelphia 76ers (18 points, 4-of-5 from deep) or the Portland Trail Blazers (26 points, 6-of-9 from distance).

    Meanwhile, the slashing takes care of itself.

11. Portland Trail Blazers, Thomas Robinson

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    Original Pick: Meyers Leonard

    Even though their original solid choice, Meyers Leonard, is gone, the Portland Trail Blazers' plan remains to add some low-post beef to complement Damian Lillard.

    That task falls on Thomas Robinson, who strength and explosiveness can change the complexion of any sequence.

    His skills don't stand out in an NBA lineup, which has contributed to his modest 15.1 minutes per game for the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets. However, he still has the tools necessary to supplement the work of LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson.

    Robinson may not be the top-five talent we hoped, but a lottery destination in the re-draft is well within reason.

12. Houston Rockets, Maurice Harkless

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    Original Pick: Jeremy Lamb (traded to Oklahoma City)

    Despite being an NCAA champion and lottery pick, Jeremy Lamb's time with the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder suggest that he wasn't worth his top-dozen draft status.

    Who do the Rockets get instead? A small forward slasher who's not initially ideal for Kevin McHale's system, but is able to be groomed into his system over a couple years.

    Maurice Harkless began 2012-13 on the bench, but he gradually displayed his versatility and development for the Orlando Magic.

    Once his outside shot gets more consistent (currently 29 percent from three-land), he'll be a dynamite weapon.

13. Phoenix Suns, Tyler Zeller

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    Original Pick: Kendall Marshall

    With his college teammate John Henson off the board, Tyler Zeller will land in the Valley of the Sun with the 13th pick.

    The 2011-12 ACC Player of the Year would collaborate effectively with Marcin Gortat, even though the future of 2012-13 squad was up in the air prior to the summer.

    Zeller could operate as a role player, scoring 7.9 points and pulling down 5.8 boards as he did with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He's often a liability defensively, but it's not for a lack of positioning or effort.

    Kendall Marshall was a unique prospect, but he wasn't ready to be an NBA-level playmaker. So it makes sense to go another route.

14. Milwaukee Bucks, Andrew Nicholson

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    Original Pick: John Henson

    He's not as long or athletic as John Henson, but Andrew Nicholson helps give the Milwaukee Bucks something they need much more of: frontcourt scoring.

    The St. Bonaventure graduate was exceptional in the limited playing time he saw in Orlando, and he would undoubtedly succeed with the Bucks as long as he got enough touches. Nicholson's 14.9 PER and 56 percent true shooting are commendable marks for someone seeing just 16.8 minutes per contest.

    His crafty footwork and deft shooting touch would force defenses to pay attention to him, thereby making the backcourt duo more dangerous.

15. Philadelphia 76ers, Jae Crowder

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    Original Pick: Maurice Harkless (traded to Orlando)

    The intended target for the Philadelphia 76ers was St. John's youngster Moe Harkless.

    Once Harkless is unavailable, it should become clear to the Sixers brass that a different style of small forward would suit them quite well.

    Jae Crowder is a handyman who will adapt his play to the team's needs, which is important because Philadelphia doesn't seem to know what it wants or needs from week to week.

    After a strong start to the 2012-13 season, Crowder tapered off. But we can't forget his scrappy defense, unselfish play and timely shooting.

16. Houston Rockets, Jeremy Lamb

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    Original Pick: Royce White

    Deemed unfit to go as a top-12 pick, Jeremy Lamb lands at No. 16 with the club that picked him 12th in the real event.

    Royce White, the original 16th pick, doesn't merit much consideration for a re-draft due to his unnecessary dispute with the franchise. As such, the Houston Rockets are free to pursue a prospect like Lamb. There's risks involved, because Lamb is a slender, mediocre passer who has yet to figure out how to attack NBA defenses.

    But the reward could be sensational, as Lamb possesses scoring talent and ample length for the shooting guard position. 

    The best news for the rookie is the increase in playing frequency he'll get compared to 21 games in Oklahoma City.

17. Dallas Mavericks, Jeffery Taylor

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    Original Pick: Tyler Zeller (traded to Cleveland)

    At No. 17, the Dallas Mavericks are in a tricky spot if they want any size. All the premiere post players have already been snagged, and it might be too early in the first round to reach for a project.

    Therefore, Mark Cuban will acquire a more athletic version of Jae Crowder. Jeffery Taylor is an outside shooter and swingman defender who's explosive in the open floor.

    At the peak of his participation with the Charlotte Bobcats, Taylor played more than half the game (24.8 minutes per contest), scored 8.1 points and shot 40 percent from distance.

    With an upgraded lineup, he can be an even better role player and piece to a championship puzzle.

18. Houston Rockets, Terrence Jones

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    Original Pick: Terrence Jones

    Youth, athleticism and room for development are three key reasons for the Houston Rockets to stick with Terrence Jones in the re-draft.

    He spent most of the 2012-13 campaign in the D-League, but his brief stints in the "big leagues" were productive. Jones rebounded the ball well, as he hauled in 8.9 boards per 36 minutes. Jones' defense was superb, as he worked hard to protect the rim, even against larger foes.

    When the ball is in his hands, he's still not comfortable enough driving right to scare defenses, although his ball-handling has improved.

    This is a forward-looking pick, and there's no reason for Daryl Morey to change it.

19. Orlando Magic, Festus Ezeli

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    Original Pick: Andrew Nicholson

    His pre-draft stock widely projected him to be on the bubble of the first and second round, but Festus Ezeli is worth reaching for at No. 19—especially when you're the 2012 Orlando Magic scrambling to deal with the potential departure of Dwight Howard.

    Ezeli's physical gifts and raw power are striking, but he has the natural defensive instincts to back it up.

    He's rejected 70 shots as a rookie and discouraged countless others. And when he's not re-directing shots, he's battling the boards to win possessions for his club.

20. Denver Nuggets, Austin Rivers

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    Original Pick: Evan Fournier

    Pick No. 20 seems more like it for talented Duke star Austin Rivers.

    The marriage of the Denver Nuggets and Austin Rivers is also much more fitting than Hornets-Rivers or Nuggets-Fournier.

    Denver's playoff-caliber roster would have put considerably less pressure on Rivers to produce immediately. The 20-year-old would get a chance to ease his way into the system and learn from all the weapons around him.

    If they could get the ball to him in transition and in open space once, it would be a huge win-win scenario.

21. Boston Celtics, John Jenkins

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    Original Pick: Jared Sullinger

    Instead of reaching for a mediocre center, the Boston Celtics should pick a known entity to fill a soon-deteriorating part of the lineup.

    The future offensive guard play, most specifically at the wings, is quite precarious. It's vital to put someone in place who will make the most out of Rajon Rondo's facilitating efforts.

    John Jenkins makes an excellent addition, as long as he brings along his 46 percent field-goal shooting and 42 percent mark from downtown. What's more encouraging is that Jenkins is finding ways to score other than pure triple-tries.

    If those are his rookie numbers, NBA beware.

22. Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger

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    Original Pick: Fab Melo

    Knowing what they know now about his back, the Boston Celtics probably wouldn't tab Jared Sullinger as their first pick, but rather, their second. And that's with the assumption that free agency or trades would take care of the rest of the frontcourt depth.

    His season-ending back surgery turned his rookie season sour right when it was getting sweet. His January included five double-digit rebounding games.

    Sullinger's situation is quite tricky in a re-draft scenario, knowing Doc Rivers' simultaneous sense of loyalty and competitiveness.

    He and the Celtics brass would move forward with the hope that a successful surgery would result in a serviceable career.

23. Atlanta Hawks, Evan Fournier

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    Original Pick: John Jenkins

    While their intended pick, John Jenkins, was less of a risk, the Atlanta Hawks' re-draft option could reward them splendidly.

    Evan Fournier is young (20 years old), but he can find his way to the hoop or burn opponents with his jumper. The French newcomer is shooting a crisp 50 percent from the field and 43 percent from beyond the arc.

    Factor in his court vision and passing skills, and you have an incredibly intriguing prospect. His 24 points against the Portland Trail Blazers were accompanied by four assists and three steals.

    Hawks' brass might be thankful Jenkins was already off the board.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers, Bernard James

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    Original Pick: Jared Cunningham (traded to Dallas)

    At this juncture in the draft, for this particular franchise, it was a matter of Bernard James' reliability vs. Fab Melo's upside.

    Although Melo has defensive talents and sufficient size, James is much more comfortable working in an NBA offense, and he's more competent on the glass. His footwork, hands, court sense and passing are all superior to Melo's.

    Picking a 28-year-old is somewhat of a risk in itself, but again, reliability is the key word. Byron Scott and company know they can count on the possession-to-possession consistency when James relieves Anderson Varejao or Tristan Thompson.

25. Memphis Grizzlies, Tony Wroten

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    Original Pick: Tony Wroten, Jr.

    Even though he has a long way to go, the Memphis Grizzlies can't pass on Tony Wroten at this stage in the draft because he's one of the most exciting players of tomorrow.

    His quick first step, natural creativity, vision and knack for finishing make him a dangerous young guard.

    The only thing he's missing is a jump shot, which is why he's shooting 38 percent on field goals, including 25 percent from long range.

    Wroten's opportunities to shine as a rookie have come few and far between, but a good summer league and offseason could translate into a breakout sophomore campaign.

26. Indiana Pacers, Draymond Green

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    Original Pick: Miles Plumlee

    Beyond Paul George, the Indiana Pacers are precarious at the small forward spot, both depth-wise and health-wise.

    To bolster the corps, the club could draft Draymond Green. The 6'7" Michigan State product is defensive-minded and from the midwest. He can guard swingmen and some power forwards, thus giving the Pacers more flexibility in their already-lethal defense.

    Offensively, he's not consistent, dynamic or dangerous, but as he's shown with the Golden State Warriors, you can play a key role on a winning club as long as you keep your foot on the gas.

27. Miami Heat, Kyle O'Quinn

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    Original Pick: Arnett Moultrie

    The Miami Heat 2012-13 front line was set, so a proposal for major rotation changes will not be heard.

    What the club did need was depth on the low block.

    Before you over-think this and talk yourself out of Kyle O'Quinn, take a look at his numbers. Not only does he haul 11.6 rebounds per 36 minutes, but his team is more productive scoring-wise when he's on the floor.

    According to 82games.com, the Magic score 3.8 more points per 100 possessions while O'Quinn is on the court, and opponents score 3.1 less points per 100 season.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder, Perry Jones III

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    Original Pick: Perry Jones III

    If this was almost any other team, Perry Jones wouldn't be getting a second chance.

    The Oklahoma City Thunder believe in him as a component of their future, but since they have no substantial function for him on the roster, he's spent several stints in the D-League.

    Jones' knee issues massacred his 2012 draft stock, and they will probably prevent him from getting a second chance in the league.

    Therefore, OKC re-drafting him is a symbol of its faith in him, even if it doesn't need him right now.

29. Chicago Bulls, Marquis Teague

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    Original Pick: Marquis Teague

    In a similar vein, the Chicago Bulls are committed to Marquis Teague.

    In this draft class, Teague is the most athletic point guard left at the end of the first round, and he has a stronger presence on both ends of the floor than Kendall Marshall.

    His assist-to-turnover ratio is a pedestrian 1.8, so that's the top priority for himself and the Bulls as they re-draft him.

    Nate Robinson's contract expires in 2013, and Kirk Hinrich's expires in 2014. Tom Thibodeau better hope Teague is ready to back up Derrick Rose within the next year or two. As long as his decision-making improves, the physical tools will carry him.

30. Golden State Warriors, Arnett Moultrie

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    Original Pick: Festus Ezeli

    The Golden State Warriors are well-stocked at guard, and with the re-draft of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, they now have sufficient forward personnel. At this point, their needs lie squarely in the paint, especially with Festus Ezeli getting picked up early.

    The best available power forward or center is Arnett Moultrie, hands down. He barely got 10 minutes of playing time in Philly in 2012-13, but he asserted himself on the offensive glass, took high-percentage opportunities near the hoop and stayed disciplined defensively.

    Moultrie had more offensive boards (1.5) than defensive boards (1.4), shot 57 percent on field goals, and committed less than a foul (0.8) per night. That kind of stat line would go a long way in helping David Lee and Andrew Bogut in the post.

     

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