The 2014 NBA draft is creeping closer by the second, and teams around the league are eyeing the incoming crop of talent with equal parts excitement and fear.
That first emotion, the hard-to-contain enthusiasm, is easy to explain. The draft brings optimism, the prospect of a fresh start and a chance to maybe, just maybe, hit the jackpot on a franchise-altering superstar. General managers know how quickly a team's fortunes can change with a single shrewd selection.
But they also know how disastrously wrong things can go, which, as you've probably guessed, is where the fear comes from.
Mistakes—especially in the lottery—can set organizations back years, and there are no do-overs allowed when it comes to bungled draft picks.
What if there were, though?
It's probably still too soon for the usual tools (hindsight, revisionist history and know-it-all-ism) to apply to the 2013 draft, but we've had two full seasons to evaluate the 2012 edition. That means we have enough information to give general managers something they've always wanted: a chance to get the draft right.
In looking back at the first round of the 2012 draft, we'll take each squad as it existed at the time, which is critical to remember when dealing with team needs. Ultimately, talent will matter most, as it should in any draft—imaginary or otherwise.
So, if we knew then what we know now, how would the 2012 NBA draft have shaken out?