Re-Grading Every Pick from the 2012 NBA Draft
One year is never enough time to properly judge an NBA draft class. Some guys are instant studs and duds, while others take time to either develop into the productive players they eventually become or decay from surprises into eventual busts.
But the 2013 draft is just around the corner (and the crop of players doesn't look so hot), so why not take some time to reflect on those that recently complete their rookie seasons? At the very least, we can slap on our hindsight shades and consider the use of the selections themselves with 20/20 vision.
Which is to say, we can judge the value each team derived from its pick rather than simply evaluate the player chosen. That is, if a team trades out of a particular slot on or after draft day, what sort of return did it get from making that move?
How did the Dallas Mavericks make out in swapping the 17th pick (Tyler Zeller) to the Cleveland Cavaliers for three other rookies? Did the Sacramento Kings get a worthwhile return on their investment in Thomas Robinson with the No. 5 pick or did Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey fleece them when he acquired T-Rob at the 2013 trade deadline?
Get the idea? Good. Read on to see how each of the top 30 picks looks nearly a year removed from Draft Day 2012.
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis
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Rookie Stats: 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.8 blocks in 28.8 minutes (64 games)
A variety of injuries and a lack of strength limited Anthony Davis' effectiveness somewhat during his rookie year. Simply put, his body wasn't quite ready to withstand the rigors of going toe-to-toe with grown men on a nightly basis.
Even so, Davis flashed some impressive potential at times for the then-New Orleans Hornets. He tossed up 20 double-doubles—six of the 20-10 variety—and twice tallied as many as five blocks in a game. Another offseason of bulking up and conditioning should help Davis handle NBA contact with greater aplomb going forward.
With The Brow entrenched at power forward, the Pelicans are free to pursue another frontcourt piece with the No. 6 pick in the 2013 draft. Otto Porter would be an ideal replacement for the free-agency-bound Al-Farouq Aminu at small forward, but the Georgetown product figures to be off the board by then.
There's a good chance Maryland center Alex Len will be available to New Orleans. His interior offensive skills and overall mobility would render him a nice fit up front next to Davis, with Robin Lopez allowing the Pelicans to bring Len along slowly if need be.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
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Rookie Stats: 9.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists in 26 minutes (78 games)
At the time, taking Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the No. 2 pick made perfect sense for the Charlotte Bobcats. To many, the Kentucky swingman was the second-best prospect in the class of 2012, with Bradley Beal as the only pre-draft challenger of any note. The Bobcats, though, already had Gerald Henderson entrenched at shooting guard.
And though Damian Lillard, the eventual Rookie of the Year, was still up for grabs, he would've been considered a stretch at such an early stage—especially for the 'Cats, who'd used the ninth pick in the previous year's draft to select Kemba Walker.
MKG hasn't exactly soured since the start of his rookie season. He was a very productive player at times for an admittedly terrible Charlotte team. He showcased a wide variety of skills, albeit without any one in particular that stood out.
Like the 'Cats as a whole, Kidd-Gilchrist remains incredibly raw. He'll have to refine his jump shot and tighten his dribble in the years to come if he's to capitalize on his full potential and make Michael Jordan look smart for drafting him.
In the meantime, the 'Cats seem likely to focus their efforts in 2013 on adding an interior talent at No. 4, be it UNLV's Anthony Bennett, Maryland's Alex Len or even Indiana's Cody Zeller.
3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal
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Rookie Stats: 13.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists in 31.2 minutes (56 games)
How is it that the Washington Wizards get such a strong grade for drafting Bradley Beal, even though he (a purported sharpshooter) shot just 41 percent from the floor and missed 26 games as a rookie?
Because, at this point, the value of any pick from the 2012 draft is still largely based on projections and future potential. Beal gave the Wizards a tantalizing glimpse at what's to come once he and John Wall finally partnered up in January. Here's a look at Beal's per-36 minute stats with Wall on and off the court, per NBA.com:
Beal without Wall: 15.8 points on 14.5 field goal attempts, 39.1 percent from the floor, 34.1 percent from three
Beal with Wall: 17.1 points on 13.3 field goal attempts, 47.1 percent from the floor, 50 percent from three
You read that right: Beal hit HALF of the three-pointers he took when he and Wall played together. It's too bad, then, that Beal and Wall only played in 25 games together last year, with injuries interceding for both youngsters.
If Beal stays healthy and nails his treys with anywhere near that level of accuracy next to Wall in 2013-14, the Wizards may well be able to bury their five-year playoff drought.
Even more so if they land an impact player—like, say, local collegian Otto Porter—with the No. 3 pick in the 2013 draft.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Dion Waiters
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Rookie Stats: 14.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals in 28.8 minutes, (61 games)
All things considered, the Cleveland Cavaliers actually look pretty smart for taking Dion Waiters with the fourth pick in last year's draft. While Thomas Robinson (i.e. the top player on whom Cleveland passed to select Waiters) was rotting on the bench in Sacramento and Houston, Waiters was busy bouncing around the court and through different roles in the Cavs' rotation.
Dion's success going forward will depend as much on sharpening his stroke (41.2 percent from the floor), improving his shot selection (31 percent from three), and shoring up his presently porous defense as it will on Mike Brown's ability to find a steady spot for him. Waiters vacillated between starting 2-guard and scoring sixth man throughout his rookie season while dealing with his own injuries and compensating for Kyrie Irving's.
What the Cavs do with the No. 1 pick (and, to a lesser extent, the No. 19 pick) will probably impact Dion's development. If they wind up with Nerlens Noel, Waiters should have an easier time securing starter's minutes.
But if they spring for, say, Victor Oladipo or trade down to nab a wing, Waiters might have to prepare himself for support duty over the long haul.
5. Sacramento Kings: Thomas Robinson
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Rookie Stats: 4.8 points, 4.7 rebounds in 15.9 minutes (51 games)
It'd be one thing if the Sacramento Kings simply allowed Thomas Robinson to lay fallow on the bench all season as a rookie because of their incumbent logjam up front. It'd be another thing if T-Rob couldn't garner major minutes because the staff in Sactown wasn't keen to feature a power forward whose shooting percentage had dipped under .430.
But trading Robinson, the No. 5 pick in a promising draft, just before the deadline? Now THAT was bound to get some heads a-scratchin'.
The only way this trade ends up reflecting well on the since-deposed Kings management is if Patrick Patterson, the lone player left from that deal with the Houston Rockets who's still on the roster, turns out to be a steady rotation player in California's capital over the long haul.
Otherwise, chalk up the T-Rob saga as just another in a long line of mistakes made by outgoing GM Geoff Petrie during the waning years of his reign. Now it's Pete D'Alessandro's turn to leave his mark, perhaps by drafting a point guard (Trey Burke? Michael Carter-Williams? CJ McCollum?) with the No. 7 pick in this week's draft.
6. Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard
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Rookie Stats: 19 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists in 38.6 minutes (82 games)
The pick of Damian Lillard at No. 6 in last year's draft was clearly a major win for the Portland Trail Blazers in and of itself. In Lillard, the Blazers added a potential All-Star at point guard who captained a solid starting five in Rip City, led all rookies in scoring and assists, and became just the fourth unanimous Rookie of the Year in league history as a result.
What makes this choice so staggeringly awesome, though, is how little the Blazers had to give up to get it. They acquired the selection from the now-Brooklyn Nets at the 2012 trade deadline in exchange for Gerald Wallace's expiring contract.
That's it. For a few months of a declining (and soon-to-be-wildly overpaid) forward, the Blazers nabbed themselves a promising floor general who stands as one of two players in NBA history to begin his career with three straight outings of at least 20 points and seven assists.
The other? Oscar Robertson.
Larry David, your thoughts?
7. Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes
Rookie Stats: 9.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists in 25.4 minutes (81 games)
The Golden State Warriors look much smarter for having drafted Harrison Barnes after the postseason he put up. The North Carolina product came up aces during the Dubs' Cinderella-ish run into the second round. He nearly doubled his scoring average from the regular season (to 16.1 points) while upping his rebounds (to 6.4) and assists (1.3) while playing 13 more minutes per game.
And, after reaching the 20-point mark just three times during the campaign, Barnes came through with four such performances in the playoffs, including a career-high 26 points during an overtime win against the San Antonio Spurs.
It's tough to ask much more of a rookie than to step up his game while often playing out of position (at power forward) in his first-ever appearance in the NBA's version of the Big Dance. Barnes' breakout all but assures that the Warriors won't feel bad for having already ceded their stake in this year's first round.
8. Toronto Raptors: Terrence Ross
Rookie Stats: 6.4 points, 2.0 rebounds in 17 minutes (73 games)
Terrence Ross flashed some serious promise as a rookie with the Toronto Raptors. He was touted as a sharpshooter coming out of college, but the Washington alum proved even more proficient as a high-flying finisher, as anyone who watched the 2013 Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend will surely attest.
Trouble is, Ross' path to stardom (if that's to be his destiny) remains blocked for the foreseeable future. The Raptors already employ a plethora of pricey wings—most notably, Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, and Landry Fields—each of whom mimics Ross' skill set in some way.
Luckily for Terrence, new Raptors GM Masai Ujiri is a master of moving onerous contracts. Toward the end of his tenure with the Denver Nuggets, Ujiri managed to flip Nene's massive deal and use Arron Afflalo's to fuel the four-team Dwight Howard trade that landed Andre Iguodala in the Mile High City.
Moreover, Ross won't have to worry about any incoming competition this year. The Raptors' first-round pick belongs to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who acquired it from the Rockets in the James Harden deal after Houston snagged it from Toronto in the Kyle Lowry swap.
9. Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond
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Rookie Stats: 7.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 1.6 blocks in 20.7 minutes (60 games)
You could excuse the Detroit Pistons for being giddy about a future with Andre Drummond in the mix. The 19-year-old out of UConn showed few signs of the apparent disinterest and lackadaisical demeanor that plagued him during his days in Storrs and caused many to consider him with caution in the lead-up to the 2012 draft.
Instead, Drummond displayed a decided dose of determination and hustle to better activate the strength, athleticism and agility that had scouts drooling over him in workouts. He converted 60.8 percent of his field goal attempts as a rookie, albeit mostly from close range, and piled up 13.8 points and 13.2 rebounds per 36 minutes—strong indicators of his production potential in an expanded role going forward.
Likewise, in 10 starts to close out the season, Drummond averaged a tantalizing 11.1 points (on 67.1 percent shooting) and 8.2 rebounds in just 25.7 minutes per outing, including an eye-popping 29-11 in all of 34 minutes against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Granted, Drummond's still rough around the edges. He shot a woeful 37.1 percent at the free throw line and was far too foul prone on the defensive end, with 4.2 infractions per 36 minutes.
But the kid doesn't turn 20 until August. With the proper coaching and commitment to his craft, Drummond should improve dramatically as a shooter and defender over the next few years.
And if the Pistons can find him a proper alley-oop partner from the point with the No. 8 pick (Trey Burke, anyone?), then the sky should continue to be the limit for Drummond in Motown.
10. New Orleans Pelicans: Austin Rivers
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Rookie Stats: 6.8 points, 1.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists in 23.2 minutes (61 games)
Austin Rivers' rookie year couldn't have gone much worse. Even with his ballyhooed handles, Rivers, a slightly-above-average athlete at guard, struggled to find open looks, did a poor job of hunting those he found, and a poorer one of hitting the ones he took.
His subpar shooting (37.2 percent from the field, 32.6 percent from three), combined with his largely rudimentary skills as a point guard, made it difficult for New Orleans head coach Monty Williams to find a comfortable place in the rotation for Austin. It didn't help, either, that Rivers was so often and so easily torched by quicker point guards and abused by bigger, stronger wings.
Rivers was so bad, in fact, that some writers wondered aloud whether his rookie campaign was the worst in NBA history. And if that weren't enough, Rivers' failures serve as a constant reminder of just how poorly the then-Hornets made out in the Chris Paul trade. With Al-Farouq Aminu bound for free agency and Eric Gordon plagued by chronic knee problems, Rivers may well wind up as the most lasting addition from that dubious deal.
Though that legacy might only decay further if Rivers' presence—and the team's belief that Doc Rivers' son can and will be a competent point guard down the line—dissuade the Pelicans from drafting a quality floor general this year.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Meyers Leonard
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Rookie Stats: 5.5 points, 3.7 rebounds in 17.5 minutes (69 games)
The time is already nigh for Meyers Leonard to prove that he's ready for prime time with the Portland Trail Blazers. With JJ Hickson likely gone via free agency and the Blazers positioned to add another big with the 10th pick in the 2013 draft (Cody Zeller? Steve Adams? Lucas Nogueira?), the onus will be on the lanky Leonard to hold his own in meaningful minutes for a squad with its eyes fixed firmly on a playoff berth in 2014.
To be sure, Leonard has acquitted himself reasonably well in the opportunities afforded him thus far. In nine starts as a rookie, Leonard averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 54.9 percent from the floor (and 12-of-13 from the line) in 32.5 minutes per outing.
Leonard's already demonstrated some impressive offensive ability for a player of his age and size. If he can up the ante on defense and strengthen his wiry frame in time for the 2013-14 season, Leonard should establish himself as a solid role player within Rip City's exciting nucleus.
12. Houston Rockets: Jeremy Lamb
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Rookie Stats (with the Oklahoma City Thunder): 3.1 points in 6.4 minutes (23 games)
It doesn't matter that Jeremy Lamb played just 147 minutes in the NBA as a rookie, or that he played exactly none of those minutes in a Houston Rockets uniform. The Rockets still get a big, fat win for this pick because it helped them to grease the wheels on the deal that brought James Harden to Space City.
And any time you can package the 12th pick in a solid draft with three other picks and Kevin Martin in exchange for an instant All-Star who now ranks as one of the 10-to-15 best players in the league, you absolutely must. Just ask Daryl Morey, who went from being the stat geek tenuously leading an underperforming franchise to one of the most revered executives in the game in the span of a single transaction.
As far as public perception is concerned, anyway.
13. Phoenix Suns: Kendall Marshall
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Rookie Stats: 3.0 points, 3.0 assists in 14.6 minutes (48 games)
I'll admit, I liked Kendall Marshall coming out of North Carolina. He had great size for a point guard, with the sort of vision and unselfish, pass-first instincts that teams look for in a player at his position.
But some scouts shuttered at the thought of Marshall's poor perimeter shooting and porous defense, and for good reason. The Virginia native shot a disconcerting 37.1 percent from the field (31.5 percent from three) as a rookie with the Phoenix Suns, and was too often taken advantage of by opposing guards on the defensive end.
Then again, defense at the point tends to be an issue for young floor generals, as even Damian Lillard would surely admit. It's also difficult to judge Marshall too harshly for his shooting, considering he logged all of 151 attempts at the NBA level.
With more playing time, Marshall may well develop into a steady pro point guard, perhaps even one worthy of a starting role. Unfortunately, Goran Dragic is entrenched at the point in Phoenix until at least 2015, which means that Marshall might have to seek opportunities elsewhere if he's ever to develop.
Even more so if the Suns spring for another guard (Ben McLemore? CJ McCollum? Michael Carter-Williams?) with the fifth pick in the 2013 draft.
14. Milwaukee Bucks: John Henson
Rookie Stats: 6.0 points, 4.7 rebounds in 13.1 minutes (63 games)
John Henson was one of a handful of mid first-rounders who opened some eyes towards the end of their respective rookie seasons. The lithe forward out of UNC managed all of three double-doubles during his first five months as a pro before tallying three more over his final five games of the regular season.
And even that doesn't do justice to what Henson did down the stretch. His campaign-closing surge began with an astounding 17-point, 25-rebound, three-assist, seven-block breakout against the Orlando Magic; continued with a stat-sheet-stuffing 14-15-2 with three steals and four blocks opposite the Denver Nuggets; and finished with a 28-16 in a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Granted, the Magic wound up with the worst record in basketball, while Denver and OKC had both reverted to Playoff Resting Mode by then. Still, there's no easy way to discount numbers that impressive, regardless of the competition.
Especially when the guy collecting them is as long and athletic as Henson is. If he's ever able to add some strength to his slender frame, and the Bucks dig up a young guard—be it Shane Larkin, Isaiah Canaan, or Dennis Schroeder—to replace the Brandon Jennings-Monta Ellis stinkfest, then there may yet be cause for some hoops-related celebration in Milwaukee, however tempered it may be.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Maurice Harkless
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Rookie Stats (with the Orlando Magic): 8.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals in 26 minutes (76 games)
Maurice Harkless was one of four pieces—along with Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic, and a first-round pick—the Philadelphia 76ers sacrificed to bring in Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson as part of the Dwight Howard blockbuster last summer. J-Rich played in just 33 games before blowing out his knee, while Bynum didn't figure into a single contest on account of his own chronically problematic ones.
Meanwhile, Harkless averaged 12.4 points and 5.5 rebounds over his final 39 games of the season (all starts) while showing off some tantalizing athleticism and an intriguing all-around skill set. It's no wonder, then, that Doug Collins, now the ex-head coach of the Sixers, was "consumed" with tracking Harkless' box scores (per NBA insider Ric Bucher).
Perhaps the Sixers will sit on their pick (No. 11) this time around, with bigs like Cody Zeller and Steven Adams likely to be available at that point.
Better than throwing good money after bad with Bynum's knees, lest the Sixers concern themselves with the big man's peculiar tonsorial tastes.
16. Houston Rockets: Royce White
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Rookie Stats (with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League): 11.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists in 25.6 minutes (16 games)
The Houston Rockets took a chance on Royce White with the 16th pick in the 2012 draft.
Their reward so far? Clashes with management over an admittedly ambiguous treatment of his anxiety disorder (albeit according to NBA guidelines), all of 16 games played in the D-League and not a single regular-season minute logged in the NBA.
It's still too early to write off White entirely, given his unique combination of size (6'8", 270 pounds), skill and versatility. But the Rockets aren't exactly wanting for young power forwards (see: Greg Smith, Thomas Robinson, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas).
Which is to say, White is expendable at this point if the problems persist.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Tyler Zeller
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Rookie Stats (with the Cleveland Cavaliers): 7.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists in 26.4 minutes (77 games)
Tyler Zeller had himself a nice rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the Dallas Mavericks are probably just as pleased (if not more so) with their haul from the draft-day trade.
A package of Zeller and Kelenna Azubuike, the latter of whom was purely cap fodder, netted the Mavs the rookie trio of Jared Cunningham, Jae Crowder, and Bernard James. Cunningham only found his way into eight games. Crowder and James, on the other hand, proved to be valuable contributors in Big D, with the two second-round picks earning 16 and 11 starts, respectively, over the course of the season.
Don't expect the Mavs to add anyone of consequence in this year's draft, though. As ESPN NBA draft guru Chad Ford noted in a recent chat with readers, Dallas is aggressively shopping the 13th pick to clear cap space for a max free agent, with some speculating that the Mavs already have a deal in place.
18. Houston Rockets: Terrence Jones
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Rookie Stats: 5.5 points, 3.4 rebounds in 14.5 minutes (19 games)
The Houston Rockets' logjam at power forward all but left Terrence Jones out of the loop as a rookie. The Kentucky product made it back up to the Big Show in April after a stint in the D-League, from which point on Jones averaged an intriguing line of 8.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.9 blocks in 23.1 minutes.
The kid's clearly got some game. The question is, will he ever get the chance to show it in Space City? At present, Jones has to duke it out with Thomas Robinson, Donatas Motiejunas, Greg Smith, and (to a much lesser extent) Royce White for precious playing time at the "4."
It's a good problem to have if you're the Rockets, assuming one of those guys turns out to be a starting-caliber player.
19. Orlando Magic: Andrew Nicholson
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Rookie Stats: 7.8 points, 3.4 rebounds in 16.7 minutes (75 games)
Worst case scenario: Andrew Nicholson turns out to be a half-decent rotation player from here on out.
Not bad for the 19th pick in the draft when you consider how spotty the results tend to be from this portion of any given order.
Nicholson didn't flash much in the way of star potential as a rookie, though he's proficient enough as a rebounder and scorer to warrant a closer look from Jacque Vaughn and company in 2013-14. He'll be in the mix for playing time alongside the likes of Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris to snag some minutes at one of the forward spots.
In the meantime, look for the Magic to turn their attention to either Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo with the No. 2 pick, assuming they're able to find a young point guard before draft day.
20. Denver Nuggets: Evan Fournier
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Rookie Stats: 5.3 points, 1.2 assists in 11.3 minutes (38 games)
Don't let Evan Fournier's modest rookie numbers fool you. This guy's got a chance to be a special player for the Denver Nuggets.
The flimsy-looking Frenchman averaged 12.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.4 steals over his final nine games, with six double-figure scoring efforts included therein. That run included Fournier's first NBA start, in which the 20-year-old scored a career-high 24 points to go along with four rebounds, four assists and three steals and upwards of 35 minutes of playing time.
With the Nuggets in flux after the departure of Masai Ujiri and the firing of George Karl, look for Fournier to find his way into the mix on the wing under the new regime, especially now that Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer are back on the market.
21. Boston Celtics: Jared Sullinger
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Rookie Stats: 6.0 points, 5.9 rebounds in 19.8 minutes (45 games)
Good news: Jared Sullinger looked like an honest-to-goodness rotation player during much of his time with the Boston Celtics this past season.
Bad news: That time was cut short by the very same back injury that caused Sully to slip on draft day last year.
Good(ish) news: The impending departure of Doc Rivers—and the Beantown house cleaning that's bound to follow—should mean more opportunities for Sully to further adapt his game to the NBA next season.
Bad(ish) news: That also means a bleak campaign for the C's in 2013-14, especially if Rajon Rondo sits out until, say, January or February while working his way back from his torn ACL.
More good news, though: The inside-out tandem of Sully and Rondo should be fun to watch once those two are healthy enough to play again.
22. Boston Celtics: Fab Melo
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Rookie Stats: 1.2 points in 6.0 minutes (6 games)
Fab Melo spent most of his rookie season in the D-League, wherein he recorded a rather impressive triple-double (15 points, 16 rebounds, 14 blocks).
Which is all the more impressive because he managed a total of seven points, three rebounds, and two blocks in 36 minutes with the Celtics.
You could say the caliber of competition differed just a bit between the two levels.
In any case, Melo figures to garner a bigger piece of the action if Boston goes for the full rebuild in the months to come. Whatever you may think of Melo's forgettable first year, the fact remains that the kid is still 7'0", 255 pounds and only 23 years old. If he turns out to be nothing more than a stiff, so be it.
23. Atlanta Hawks: John Jenkins
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Rookie Stats: 6.1 points, 1.5 rebounds in 14.8 minutes (61 games)
At present, the Atlanta Hawks have just five players under contract for the 2013-14 season. John Jenkins happens to be one of them.
Jenkins certainly deserves a more extensive look from the Hawks once Mike Budenholzer takes over. The Vanderbilt product shot a respectable 38.4 percent from three as a rookie, including an intriguing 44.7 percent from deep from the start of February until early April.
With Kyle Korver back on the market and Lou Williams recovering from a torn ACL, don't be surprised if Jenkins becomes Atlanta's de facto shooting specialist next season.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jared Cunningham
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Rookie Stats (with the Dallas Mavericks): 2.0 points in 3.3 minutes (six games)
The Cleveland Cavaliers' grade for this trade has less to do with what Jared Cunningham did (or didn't do) and more with the fact that the Cavs ultimately gave up two other rookie role players (Jae Crowder and Bernard James) to get one (Tyler Zeller).
Not that Zeller has anything to be ashamed of. He had some nice moments as an agile, rebounding big alongside Tristan Thompson in Cleveland's young frontcourt.
But giving up both Crowder and James, two tough contributors, seems a bit steep a price to pay for Zeller, even more so when you factor in Cunningham's potential as a combo guard in the coming years.
Then again, we're not exactly talking about world beaters here, are we?
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Wroten
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Rookie Stats: 2.6 points, 1.2 assists in 7.8 minutes (35 games)
It's tough to expect too much of the 25th pick in any draft, especially when that pick is stuck behind the likes of Mike Conley and Jerryd Bayless on an elite Memphis Grizzlies squad.
Tony Wroten's time will come soon enough, though. Bayless has just one year left on his deal and may well opt for free agency this summer. The Grizzlies are already capped out and will probably prioritize paying Tony Allen ahead of doing so for Bayless.
Which means Wroten's role on the team could grow immensely in 2013-14. If that's the case, it'll be up to the 20-year-old Seattleite to smooth out his inconsistent jump shot and tighten his pass-and-dribble game in anticipation of a significant step up in responsibility.
26. Indiana Pacers: Miles Plumlee
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Rookie Stats: 0.9 points, 1.6 rebounds in 3.9 minutes (14 games)
Like Tony Wroten in Memphis, Miles Plumlee is in the midst of a potentially exciting situation with the Indiana Pacers. In Plumlee's case, the path to significant playing time is currently being blocked by Tyler Hansbrough, Jeff Pendergraph and Sam Young.
But those three guys will all be free agents come July 1st. The Pacers will have some cap space at their disposal, though most of that figures to go toward retaining David West and finding a new backup point guard.
In that case, the Pacers could certainly use a big, athletic body like Plumlee's to bring off the bench to provide a measure of defense, rebounding and toughness. Only time will tell if the Duke alum can do just that for an Indy team that has the look of a title contender in 2014.
27. Miami Heat: Arnett Moultrie
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Rookie Stats (with the Philadelphia 76ers): 3.7 points, 3.1 rebounds in 11.5 minutes (47 games)
The immediate return on the 27th pick in the 2012 draft was hardly worth mentioning for the Miami Heat. In sending Arnett Moultrie to Philly, the Heat took back Justin Hamilton, who spent this past season in Eastern Europe, and a future second-round pick.
But by shedding the salary that would've come with a first-round selection, Miami (partly) paved the way for Ray Allen to flee Boston and land safely on South Beach.
And we all know how that turned out for the Heat, now don't we?
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Perry Jones III
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Rookie Stats: 2.3 points, 1.6 rebounds in 7.4 minutes (38 games)
You could do worse than be Perry Jones III. Sure, it stunk that he fell from a surefire top-5 pick to No. 28 in the 2012 draft on account of knee problems and questions about his assertiveness (or lack thereof).
But at least he landed with a club, in the Oklahoma City Thunder, that knows a thing or two about player development. And at least that club will be a perennial title contender so long as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are around and healthy.
In time, PJIII figures to be a useful player for the Thunder down the road. He's still a tall, talented, athletic prospect with a diverse, appealing skill set.
For now, though, he'll just have to sit and wait his turn while OKC plays its way back into title contention in 2014.
29. Chicago Bulls: Marquis Teague
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Rookie Stats: 2.1 points, 1.3 assists in 8.2 minutes (48 games)
The Chicago Bulls did the smart thing and drafted a point guard with their first-round pick in 2012. They knew Derrick Rose would be out for quite a while recovering from his torn ACL, and probably figured that Marquis Teague could and would learn the ropes from D-Rose once the MVP returned.
Rose didn't make it back in time to partake in the 2012-13 season, though he'll certainly be on hand for the upcoming campaign. That may well push Teague back to third string, behind Rose and Kirk Hinrich (or fourth string, if Nate Robinson comes back), assuming Tom Thibodeau doesn't slide Hinrich over to shooting guard.
In any case, there's no rush for Teague to take over a major role in Chicago just yet. He'll be all of 20 when the 2013-14 slate starts, and will have the opportunity to bide his time while watching (and helping) his team contend for the title.
30. Golden State Warriors: Festus Ezeli
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Rookie Stats: 2.4 points, 4.3 rebounds in 14.4 minutes (78 games)
There were times this past season when the Golden State Warriors started two guys in their frontcourt who'd been the 30th overall pick in their respective drafts: David Lee (2005) and Festus Ezeli (2012).
Of course, nobody's suggesting Ezeli is or will ever be the sort of productive, All-Star-caliber player that Lee has become over the years. But the point remains, getting a guy who can start and provide a defensive presence at center with the last pick of the first round ain't bad, to say the least.
Unfortunately for the Dubs, the selection came with the price of two years of Richard Jefferson at a total of $21.21 million. Factor that in, and the grade for this pick would sink like a stone.
But we won't hold Jefferson's overpaid struggles against Ezeli. Instead, let's celebrate the Nigerian giant's surprising rise to prominence as Andrew Bogut's backup, shall we?