Re-Drafting the 2012 NBA Draft Class
The 2012 NBA draft gave us a pair of franchise pillars to choose from at the top, yet the player from this class with the most team success doesn't even average double figures for his career.
That should give a good sense of the tricky comparisons this particular group demands.
We're determining the order based on peak performance and longevity. Positional needs don't matter; we're going "best player available" at each slot. Individual stats and impact on team performance are the most critical factors affecting the re-draft.
We'll assume each team gets to keep the player it picks for his entire career and that whatever befell said player in reality (injury, suspension, premature washout) will also come to pass here. There are no alternate timelines in which, say, Festus Ezeli stays healthy or someone hips Dion Waiters to the concept of "shot selection."
Enough with the rules. Let's redo this thing and get it right this time.
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis
Over the past couple of decades, there haven't been many surefire, no-questions-asked, "if you don't take this guy at No. 1 overall, what are you even doing?" picks in the NBA draft.
Tim Duncan and LeBron James come to mind, as does Zion Williamson, the no-brainer top selection in the 2019 draft.
Anthony Davis is another.
He led Kentucky to a national title in 2012, winning virtually every individual award possible while averaging 14.2 points on 62.3 percent shooting, inhaling 10.4 rebounds per game and registering 4.7 blocks per contest. Davis' rare combination of size and skill made him easily projectable as a multi-time All-Star big man, which is exactly what he has become.
Davis is a seven-time All-Star with three All-NBA first-team nods, three All-Defensive (two second-team, one first-team) seasons and more win shares than anyone else in his class. He is one of three players to average at least 24.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks with a 58.0 true shooting percentage over his first eight seasons.
Shaquille O'Neal and David Robinson are the other two.
It's fair to note Davis has yet to prove he can be the best player on a title-winner, but that's true of everyone else from this class. And when the only thing missing from a player's resume is basically the holy grail of individual and team achievement, it means he's already done everything else.
Davis is a three-time finisher in the top 10 of MVP voting, and he'll surely make it four whenever votes are tallied for the 2019-20 season.
The Hornets got this right in reality, and there's no reason to change anything in our re-draft.
Actual Pick: Anthony Davis
Davis' Actual Draft Slot: No. 1, New Orleans Hornets
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Damian Lillard
Having said all those nice things about Davis, there's a pretty good case for Damian Lillard going first overall.
Dame's best-in-class durability (3,215 more minutes than anyone else picked in 2012) is part of the reason he's miles ahead of his next-closest competitors in total points, assists and three-pointers made. And though Davis has a slightly higher career true shooting percentage on a nearly identical usage rate, Lillard's bona fides as a playmaker render him the more useful offensive weapon.
There's more value in a point guard who can bring the rock up, drill shots from 30 feet, penetrate, pass, terrify defenders off the ball, run a pick-and-roll and take over at will than there is in a (highly skilled) big who needs the ball delivered to him before he can go to work.
For years, Lillard has been the closest facsimile of Stephen Curry, arguably the most impactful offensive player of the modern era. His supreme confidence, quiet leadership, deep shooting and unflappable demeanor make him one of the NBA's most reliable, steadying superstar presences.
Lillard also has a postseason heroism portfolio Davis can't touch, and though Dame's situation with the Portland Trail Blazers featured better management and more winning than Davis' in New Orleans, it remains true that Lillard is basically the poster boy for loyalty. AD, in contrast, forced his way out.
Lillard's career averages of 24.0 points, 6.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds are stellar. As was the case for Davis, 2019-20 will almost certainly mark the fourth time he's finished among the top 10 in MVP voting.
In the end, Davis' marginally better numbers (more win shares, higher value over replacement player, box plus-minus and player efficiency rating) and demonstrated two-way play give him a narrow edge over Lillard. It's close, though.
Actual Pick: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Lillard's Actual Draft Slot: No. 6, Portland Trail Blazers
3. Washington Wizards: Draymond Green
There'll be a contingent of Washington Wizards supporters happy enough with reality to prefer Bradley Beal at his original draft slot. Beal is a valuable weapon whose shooting and development as a playmaker have made him one of the top offensive wings in the league.
Draymond Green, though, is the single most valuable defensive player of the past decade.
His ability to credibly defend all five positions unlocked a switching scheme in Golden State that the league has spent years trying to emulate. Nobody's quite done it because there's only one Draymond.
At his best, Green gave no quarter against even the most dominant offensive smalls in the NBA and stood tall against players with six inches and plenty of weight on him down low. As remarkable as Green's work on the ball (against all sizes) can be, his true genius is in his ability to anticipate action, materializing in the right place for seemingly impossible help rotations.
To whatever extent we celebrate great offensive players' ability to control games with what often feels like clairvoyance, we owe that same admiration to Green's mental acuity on defense.
A two-on-one is not an advantage situation when Green is the one defender.
That Draymond could also turn defensive stops into runouts with exceptional ball-handling, vision and passing only augments his value. The highlights that best capture the dynastic Warriors' dominance often involve Green making an incredible stop and immediately pushing the ball up the floor for a transition bucket.
The Warriors don't win three rings in five years without their 2016-17 DPOY, three-time All-Star and five-time All-Defensive (three first-team, two second-team) star.
Among 2012 draftees, Green is second in assists, second in steals, third in rebounds and fourth in blocks. He's also in the top four for win shares, BPM and VORP while owning a career on-off net rating split of plus-9.8 that tops Davis' plus-5.2, Lillard's plus-7.2 and Beal's plus-4.2.
If we were considering team need here, Green's poor perimeter shooting would make for a tough fit with the similarly jump-shot-deficient John Wall. But the defensive havoc those two would have wrought in their primes would have offset any offensive struggles.
Actual Pick: Bradley Beal
Green's Actual Draft Slot: No. 35, Golden State Warriors
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal
You know you're dealing with serious talent at the top of a draft when a two-time All-Star currently averaging 30.5 points per game comes off the board fourth.
Bradley Beal's swollen 2019-20 scoring average owes partly to a Wizards roster bereft of other bucket-getters, but there's no denying his credentials as a premier offensive wing. A career 38.0 percent shooter from deep with three separate seasons north of the 40.0 percent mark, Beal's feathery form was obvious immediately. His development as a shooter off the dribble truly elevated his profile.
As a rookie, Beal's three-point makes were assisted 96 percent of the time. That figure steadily declined as he honed his craft and ball-handling, all the way down to 64 percent in 2019-20. If Beal had only ever been a dependent scorer, he still would have been a quality starter.
But his growth into a self-sufficient offensive force (also evident in an assist percentage that has climbed from 13.7 percent as a rookie to a career-best 29.1 percent in 2019-20) sets him apart from every other wing in this class.
Beal led the league in total minutes in 2018-19, and Lillard is the only player picked in 2012 with more time logged on the floor. Third in points and assists and in the top five in BPM, win shares and VORP, he's a great value here.
Is anybody else excited at the prospect of a Beal-Kyrie Irving backcourt in Cleveland? It might work out a little better than the Irving-Waiters tandem did...
Actual Pick: Dion Waiters
Beal's Actual Draft Slot: No. 3, Washington Wizards
5. Sacramento Kings: Khris Middleton
There are three individual seasons produced by the 2012 class with at least 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists.
Khris Middleton has two of them.
Twice an All-Star, the 6'7" wing out of Texas A&M is an elite second option for the dominant Milwaukee Bucks. The Detroit Pistons gave up on the No. 39 pick after just one season, and it was obvious right away that they'd made a mistake.
Middleton started 64 games and shot 41.4 percent from beyond the arc as a sophomore, and he's been a first-unit mainstay ever since.
Though limited athleticism and unspectacular speed off the dribble combine to prevent Middleton from getting or finishing a high percentage of his looks around the rim, he's adept at using his size to supplement his three-point shot with a quality mid-range game.
Middleton has ranked above the 80th percentile in mid-range scoring efficiency among wings in six of his eight seasons. Through 55 games in 2019-20, he was in the 99th percentile in accuracy on those tough in-between shots.
The class' best high-volume three-point shooter at 39.2 percent for his career, a stout defender and a killer second option on a contender, Middleton is everything you could want in a non-superstar wing.
Actual Pick: Thomas Robinson
Middleton's Actual Draft Slot: No. 39, Detroit Pistons
6. Portland Trail Blazers: Andre Drummond
This'll come as a disappointment to Portland Trail Blazers fans, who'd surely prefer the reality of drafting Lillard to the fiction of adding Andre Drummond.
But Portland did start JJ Hickson 80 times alongside LaMarcus Aldridge in 2012-13, so Drummond would definitely provide an upgrade to its two-big frontcourt looks.
A premier rebounder, Drummond has over 500 more boards than anyone else since he entered the league. That's doubly impressive considering he only started 10 games and averaged 20.7 minutes as a rookie.
Though his post-ups are almost always disasters, and his offensive game is limited to territory inside three feet, Drummond deserves credit for flashing serviceable high-post passing and upping his free-throw accuracy from "horrendous" to merely "bad." After shooting no better than 41.8 percent from the stripe in his first five seasons, Drummond has been at 57.5 percent or better over his past three.
His physical tools never translated to elite defense, and his classic center profile is completely out of vogue, but Drummond is easily the most productive big man left with Davis off the board.
Actual Pick: Damian Lillard
Drummond's Actual Draft Slot: No. 9, Detroit Pistons
7. Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes
Davis isn't the only guy who was picked in the correct spot. Harrison Barnes, a 6'8" combo forward with a spotless amateur pedigree and a frame that helped him look the part of a top-end starter from the second he put on an NBA jersey, ends up in his real-life location.
Barnes has never had much off-the-bounce spontaneity; his moves look preplanned and a quarter-step slow. But he established himself as a trustworthy floor-spacer (37.5 percent from deep for his career) who could hold up against power forwards on D for the first iteration of the dynastic Dubs, then he cashed in on enormous free-agent deals with the Dallas Mavericks and Sacramento Kings.
Miscast as a shot creator in his post-Warriors stops, Barnes remains a committed defender and no-fuss locker room presence as he moves into his late 20s. Though generally unspectacular (with some notable exceptions), Barnes is the type of steady, low-maintenance starter good teams should be happy to employ in a supporting role.
That may sound like damning with faint praise, but this draft ran clean out of borderline stars after Drummond. This is the surest bet left.
Actual Pick: Harrison Barnes
Barnes' Actual Draft Slot: No. 7, Golden State Warriors
8. Toronto Raptors: Jae Crowder
Jae Crowder rockets up from his original No. 34 spot to trail Barnes in what'll become a string of role-filling wings and forwards.
Though he didn't establish himself as a useful starter until his age-25 season with the Boston Celtics, during which he averaged 14.2 points per game and upped his three-point-attempt rate, Crowder has since been an in-demand combo forward.
Though only listed at 6'6", Crowder's physical strength allows him to spend time at the 4. And though we've discussed his offense first, contributions on the other end are the main reason a second-rounder's stock has improved so much in this re-draft.
Crowder is fourth in the class with 17.2 defensive win shares, and his ability to guard wings and forwards makes him an asset in switching schemes. Tough and competitive on D and just good enough from deep to offer value on offense, he's a quality rotation piece who's lasted much longer than most second-rounders.
Actual Pick: Terrence Ross
Crowder's Actual Draft Slot: No. 34, Cleveland Cavaliers
9. Detroit Pistons: Terrence Ross
Barnes and Crowder offered two-way role-playing value, but in Terrence Ross, we've got a different breed of contributor.
Initially best known as a high-flyer (with supporting dunk-contest evidence), Ross also proved himself capable of striping it from deep, hitting 39.5 percent of his treys (37.1 percent for his career) in his sophomore season. He cracked the Raptors' starting five that year, and though his role was fluid over the next several seasons, it made sense that he settled into a bench-gunner gig with the Orlando Magic.
Though his block and steal rates are relatively high for a wing, Ross' positive on-off impact shows up much more obviously on the offensive side. His defensive shortcomings are easier to hide against second-unit opponents, which is another reason he's thrived as a sixth man.
With four seasons of double-digit scoring (plus one with an average of 9.8 and another at 9.9), Ross is a reliable bucket off the bench, one who can get hot enough to finish and win a game or two every year.
Actual Pick: Andre Drummond
Ross' Actual Draft Slot: No. 8, Toronto Raptors
10. New Orleans Hornets: Evan Fournier
Evan Fournier's five seasons of at least 15.0 points per game are fourth-most among 2012 draftees, trailing only Lillard (eight), Beal (seven) and Davis (seven). His 925 made threes rank fourth, surprisingly ahead of Middleton, Crowder and Barnes.
With passable secondary playmaking chops and 200 more games started than Ross, you might wonder why the French import wouldn't be taken a few spots earlier. The main reason: Ross, Crowder and Barnes are, at worst, defensive neutrals. Crowder and Barnes have been much better than that in stretches.
Fournier, though, is a drag on that end.
Low block, steal and rebound rates are the results of a subpar activity level, painting the veteran guard as a player lacking the ability (or desire?) to impose himself on opponents. It's no coincidence Fournier's teams have generally performed better on defense without him, and the difference is growing more pronounced over the last three seasons—perhaps an indicator that waning athleticism is now also a factor.
Still, Fournier is a relatively high-usage offensive player who routinely ranks above average in points per shot attempt. Add his serviceable passing to the mix and you can see why he's earned significant minutes and started the majority of his games over an eight-year career.
Actual Pick: Austin Rivers
Fournier's Actual Draft Slot: No. 20, Denver Nuggets
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Will Barton
Barton played 144 games with the Blazers before getting his first chance at major minutes following a trade to the Denver Nuggets in 2015. He's flashed above-average playmaking on the wing in Denver while posting double-figure scoring averages in each of his five seasons there.
An affinity for difficult shots from the short mid-range area makes it tough for Barton to score efficiently. Of the 36 players in this class who've attempted at least 500 career field goals, Barton ranks 25th in true shooting percentage. That said, he's one of only six players picked in 2012 with 5,000 points and 1,200 assists for his career.
12. Houston Rockets: Jeremy Lamb
Lamb makes it two straight players going to the teams that drafted them in reality, though it should be noted he never suited up for the Houston Rockets. He was involved in a little preseason trade—maybe you've heard of it—that sent James Harden to Space City.
A willowy 6'5", Lamb, like Barton, depends heavily on mid-range scoring for his offense. He didn't get to the rim frequently in OKC, but after moving to the Charlotte Hornets as a free agent in 2015, he improved in that regard. Now with an Indiana Pacers squad that embraces the mid-range game more than most, Lamb is back to taking more of those tricky in-between shots than ever.
A career 10.5 points-per-game average on 54.4 percent true shooting doesn't quite measure up to the handful of wings who came off the board in the last few picks, but Lamb belongs in this mix at least partly because he's been a solid defensive player for most of his career. His 0.3 defensive box plus-minus is ninth overall and third among wings in the 2012 class.
13. Phoenix Suns: Maurice Harkless
This is a pure defensive play, and one that may not persuade re-draft analysts in light of Harkless' recent disappearance from an NBA rotation. But the 6'7" forward has had a productive career to this point
Rangy, quick and capable of handling positions 2-4 on D, Harkless has also been an occasionally dangerous outside shooter. He hit a career-best 41.5 percent from deep in 2017-18 and finished three other seasons above 34.0 percent. Though always a low-volume man from distance (especially so when trying to preserve contract bonuses), Harkless really did fit the three-and-D bill for a solid four years in Portland.
Lest anyone gets discouraged by his down year, which was split between the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks, 2019-20 was only Harkless' age-26 season. With his profile, it's only a matter of time before he catches on with another winner.
14. Milwaukee Bucks: Kent Bazemore
Despite being one of the best defensive wings in the country, Bazemore couldn't convince anyone he was worth a draft pick. The disruptive 6'4" guard with a 7-foot wingspan made the Warriors after a stellar summer league and eventually parlayed stout defense, average three-point shooting, just enough playmaking and inspired sideline celebrations into one of those eye-popping 2016 free-agent contracts that will never seem normal.
From undrafted to four years and $70 million: The Kent Bazemore Story.
Though never quite able to live up to his salary, Bazemore has been a capable two-way rotation player, posting a career season in 2017-18 with averages of 12.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals while hitting 39.4 percent of his threes for the Atlanta Hawks.
Prior to the season's stoppage, Bazemore, having rediscovered his defense-first game, was keying a late-season playoff push for the Sacramento Kings.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: JaMychal Green
Green follows Bazemore as a second straight undrafted player doing much better for himself this time around.
The 6'8" forward completely changed his profile by adding a three-point shot in 2015-16, and he's now at 36.7 percent on 2.0 attempts per game for his career. His best years were in Memphis, but Green's most tantalizing stretch came in the 2019 playoffs when he had success as a small-ball center for the Clippers.
He might get a more extended shot at the 5 on another team, but backup-big extraordinaire Montrezl Harrell is blocking his path to the gig in Los Angeles. Having moved beyond the point in the draft at which clear starters are available, Green is a solid frontcourt option off the bench.
16. Houston Rockets: Tomas Satoransky
Originally selected 32nd by the Washington Wizards, Satoransky didn't come to the states until 2016-17. His comparatively short tenure doesn't hurt his stock, though, because he's proved in his four seasons that he's—at worst—a high-end backup at either guard spot. He's been a capable starter for the Chicago Bulls this season.
Despite great size at 6'7" that should help him see outlets against pressure defense, Satoransky is a high-mistake player. His 17.1 turnover percentage is second-highest among the 23 players picked in 2012 who've logged at least 6,000 career minutes.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Shoulder injuries and gag-inducing shooting form kept MKG from ever becoming more than a defense-only option—even when the Hornets messed around and gave him spot minutes at center to see if that would ease the spacing crunch.
Kidd-Gilchrist's best season was 2014-15 when he played 55 games, posting a 15.1 PER with a career-best 18.4 percent usage rate. He averaged 10.9 points and 7.6 boards that year, playing mostly small forward.
One of only four players picked in 2012 with at least 2,000 rebounds, 250 steals and 300 blocks, Kidd-Gilchrist clearly found ways to contribute. It's just that his inability to help on offense has made him harder and harder to play as the game's pace and point totals trend up.
Ever so slightly, MKG's form and efficiency from the perimeter have improved over the last two years. He's still just 26, so there's hope he can reclaim a rotation role.
18. Houston Rockets: Mike Scott
A pure bench gunner, Scott entered the league with a hair trigger and quickly carved out a high-scoring reserve role with the Hawks. A starter in just 21 of his 499 career games, Scott does most of his damage beyond the arc against second units.
He's hit over 39.0 percent of his deep attempts in three different seasons, but snoozing rim-protectors beware; he'll come get you inside if you're not ready.
Though no stranger to the on-court scrap, Scott has never brought the same level of fight to his defensive play.
19. Orlando Magic: Meyers Leonard
An athletic 7-footer with a career 39.2 percent stroke from deep and the highest true shooting percentage in the 2012 class lasts all the way until No. 19?
Unfortunately for Leonard, yes.
An extremely low-usage center, Leonard's value starts and ends with his pick-and-pop skill. His teams have almost always performed worse on both ends with him on the floor as his offense lacks the volume to make a difference while his exceptionally low block and steal rates illustrate his lack of presence on D.
That said, if you didn't know the numbers and only got to watch Leonard run, jump and shoot...he'd probably go in the top five.
20. Denver Nuggets: John Henson
Henson has the highest block percentage in the class among picks who have played at least 1,000 minutes, and his 2,368 rebounds rank eighth. There's real defensive value in his long-limbed frame, but the lack of an offensive game outside 10 feet is the main reason Henson has been a reserve for most of his career.
If he could function as a passing hub, it might mitigate the absence of scoring touch, but Henson has exactly 496 assists and 496 turnovers in his career. His shot-blocking is useful enough to keep him in the top 20, but dependent scorers without the size to start at the 5 or the versatility to switch aren't exactly hot commodities.
21. Boston Celtics: Kyle O'Quinn
If we were drafting on quality of beard, O'Quinn would be in the lottery. But we're not, so he'll have to settle for going 21st, which is still a significant upgrade on reality (49th).
An intimidating force (again, the beard helps), O'Quinn's game doesn't quite square with his 6'9", 250-pound frame. Instead of bullying opponents inside, he loves long mid-rangers and might actually be most useful to an offense as a facilitator from the elbows. However, he's an overly ambitious passer. His elite assist percentage among bigs comes with a boatload of turnovers.
The stretch in his game has never extended beyond the arc, and O'Quinn isn't a particularly mobile or versatile defender. But he's one of only four players in this draft with career averages of at least 13.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per 36 minutes. Of course, he's never averaged more than 18.0 minutes per game in a season because nothing in his game warrants a first-unit role.
22. Boston Celtics: Dion Waiters
Take high usage and add a dollop of abysmal efficiency, and you've got Waiters' game.
Though it seems like a mistake to leave his 13.2 points per contest on the board this long, there may actually be a better argument for kicking him out of the first round altogether. Inconsistent focus, wildly fluctuating conditioning and (this year) conduct-based suspensions make it even harder to tolerate his ball-stopping and inefficient volume scoring.
But there just aren't many guards with the ability to generate their own looks quite like the 28-year-old veteran. Shot creation is a skill, and Waiters has it.
He's worth a flier this late.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Austin Rivers
We're punting on the numbers again as Rivers' minus-3.5 VORP is actually the worst of any player drafted in 2012. (Waiters is second-worst among players who stuck around long enough to play at least 400 games.)
With a negative BPM in every year of his career and shooting splits of 41.8/34.8/64.0, Rivers, like Waiters, is tough to sell as a worthwhile pick. He plays both ends hard, though, and there's just enough playmaking and spot-up shooting in his game to warrant consideration. Plus, his staccato ball-handling and funky floaters were ripe for comedic impression.
It's hard to score 15.1 points per game in the NBA, and Rivers did so, putting up that career-best average while starting 59 games for his dad's Clippers in 2017-18. That gets the job done at No. 23.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Tyler Zeller
Zeller is a palate cleanser after a pair of gunning guards.
Originally drafted by the Dallas Mavericks but shipped to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the 7-foot center lasted seven seasons and was even a regular starter in three of them. He never bettered his 2014-15 campaign, marked by averages of 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds, and he was out of the league this year after logging just six games in 2018-19.
Athletically limited, Zeller was still a sound positional defender. His excellent hands made him a capable roll man on offense, though his best bet after the catch was usually to seek contact as he was short on lift and craft around the rim.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Terrence Jones
Jones' last full season in the league was 2016-17, but he was a tantalizing talent before washing out. When he averaged 12.1 points, 6.9 boards and 1.3 blocks in 27.3 minutes per game as a 22-year-old in 2013-14, it seemed like there might be something special ahead.
The athletic lefty could run the floor, roll, cut and even put the ball on the deck for straight-line drives when defenders closed out too aggressively. Though never quite efficient enough to make them count (29.7 percent), Jones still averaged at least one three-point try per game in every year of his career.
Opportunistic work on the offensive glass and spectacular shot-blocking hinted at the production Jones could have generated if he'd summoned maximum effort all the time.
26. Indiana Pacers: Jared Sullinger
The skill was never in question, but Sullinger's weight operated as a governor on his production. Even while averaging double digits in three straight seasons with the Celtics from 2013-14 to 2015-16, Sullinger struggled to stay in playing shape. He admitted his exit from the NBA in 2017 had more to do with eating habits than lack of game.
At 6'9", the Ohio State product could hit a mid-range jumper, pass, back defenders down and thrive on the glass by leveraging his considerable heft. Among 2012 draftees who played at least 100 games, Sullinger ranks fourth with an 11.5 offensive rebound percentage.
27. Miami Heat: Miles Plumlee
Plumlee peaked in his second season, starting 79 games and averaging 8.1 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 51.7 percent from the field for the 2013-14 Phoenix Suns.
Lively and long, he could go get a lob at the square and finish on the catch with power. The 103 dunks he racked up in that stellar 2013-14 season were a career high. Waning bounce and a shrinking role prevented him from jamming more than 64 times in any subsequent year, and he was out of the league at 30 following the 2018-19 season.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Festus Ezeli
It was always about health for Ezeli, who played 78 games (41 starts) as a rookie for the Warriors but then missed the 2013-14 season entirely and logged just 92 more contests before multiple knee surgeries ended his career. When able to play, the 6'11" center absolutely looked the part of an imposing 5.
There were even times when his minutes were more exciting than those played by starter Andrew Bogut. Ezeli was a high-riser with the strength to finish over defenders. Though raw and prone to bungling passes, he played with force while earning the sort of fan-favorite status that always seems to attach itself to well-intentioned talents who just can't catch a break on the injury front.
His career per-36 averages of 10.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks hint at what could have been.
29. Chicago Bulls: Darius Miller
Miller has missed all of 2019-20 with a torn Achilles, but we should assume he'll get right back to striping threes when he returns. A pure shooting specialist, the 6'6" forward shot 41.1 percent from deep in 2017-18, then he upped his attempt rate and still hit 36.5 percent in 2018-19.
Though far from spectacular on D, Miller can survive well enough on that end to warrant a rotation role.
30. Golden State Warriors: Quincy Acy
Acy shoots threes, plays hard, offers up his share of highlights and doesn't kill his team on defense, which is enough to get the journeyman forward into the first round. Barely.
There's nothing glamorous about his game, but it's worth noting Acy has exactly as many win shares (8.7) as Waiters, who went several picks earlier. He's a fringe-rotation player, but his activity level produced a load of "where'd that come from?" swats and slams in his seven seasons.