For the last six or so years of watching the NBA, I have finally enjoyed a draft night. For years, my favorite team has either: a) traded picks to avoid luxury tax, or, b) drafted the inferior one of siblings. Let’s take a look at a list of players my team could have drafted had we kept our picks:
2004 – Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, or Al Jefferson
2006 – Rajon Rondo, or Kyle Lowry
2008 – Serge Ibaka, Nicholas Batum, or George Hill
We have also drafted a guy who goes by the name of Taylor Griffin. The last name sounds familiar, huh? Yea, it’s because he happens to be Blake Griffin’s brother. Don’t even get me started on Robin Lopez. We passed up Roy Hibbert, JaVale McGee, and Ryan Anderson to draft Robin Lopez. Two years later, we overpaid Channing Frye aka the 6’11 Kyle Korver.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m an avid fan of the Phoenix Suns.
So this year, when Phoenix managed to stay mediocre and grabbed the 13th pick, I was pretty ecstatic. As we all know, the 2012 NBA draft is insanely deep. Maybe not “franchise players in late lottery” deep, but “solid starter materials with decent potential from late lottery to the end of first round” deep.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the better and worse picks. The analysis will be shallow, since I’m an amateur and I don’t get paid to write this. Grades are given based on players available when the team drafted, and how good do the picks address the teams’ needs / directions. Please keep in mind a higher grade doesn’t mean a higher position on my list. We shall begin with some honorable mentions.There will be no mention of second round picks since I’m not familiar with them. And I have never watched a game of NCAA. Most of my info came from the Internet. Just bear with me.
With Steve Nash leaving via free agency, the Suns have finally set in the west. Drafting Kendall Marshall seems to be a solid move. He’s not particularly athletic, but he’s cerebral, and I like that. Handing the keys over to a rookie PG would mark the official end of the Nash era and a beginning towards an all-out rebuild.
The Kings have an up and coming all-star C in DeMarcus Cousins, and a PF with good potential in Thomas Robinson. Now this will be intriguing to watch. Finding one good frontcourt player is hard enough, but two? The Kings outdid themselves here. I do think they should commit to building around Cousins though. That means a Tyreke Evans trade should be a move they seriously consider.
Andre Drummond probably has one of the highest upsides in this draft. Standing at 6’11, 270 pounds, Drummond is an incredibly raw prospect. Should he pan out, however, there will be no one who can stop him. Drafting him at 9 is an incredibly safe bet. Even if he doesn’t fit, he is still a very valuable trade chip.
The Jeremy Lamb pick is not bad, but two tweeners? Really? You already have a SF in Chandler Parsons. Don’t forget about Marcus Morris as well. Now you have three SF/PF tweeners. I don’t get their logic. Both Royce White and Terrence Jones are oversized, under-qualified small forwards.If the Rockets decide to move them to the power forward spot, the team will still be stacked at the 4, alongside Patterson and Scola.
They have traded their 18th pick for Chase Budinger. Seriously, you can’t pick anyone remotely better than Budinger at 18? I know David Kahn is stupid, but he should know better than that. If you ask me, a right move would be to trade Derrick Williams for maybe a top 5 pick and draft Harrison Barnes to fill their need in SF. At least try.
The Cavs decided to pick up Waiters with their 4th pick. What should have happened is the Cavs trading down, preferably to the Warriors. They could have accumulated even more assets and draft Waiters at the same time. As if that’s not bad enough, the Cavs decided to go for Tyler Zeller as well. Don’t get me wrong. Zeller is a solid player, but he’s a finesse kind of player. You’re pairing him up with a severely undersized power forward in Tristan Thompson. That may be troublesome.
Miles Plumlee. End of discussion.
Top 5 Best of 2012 NBA Draft
#1 Anthony Davis PF
#10 Austin Rivers SG
With no doubt, New Orleans is the winner of tonight’s draft. Anthony Davis is a once in a decade talent, and there is no dispute about him going at no. 1. However, NOLA has also elected to take Austin Rivers aka the 6’4 Kobe Bryant wannabe aka not Kobe Bryant. Rivers is notorious for being a ball-hog, and a firm believer of “there is no ‘I’ in team but there certain is ‘me’ in the word”. That wouldn’t be a huge problem if they don’t already have another 6’4 score-first shooting guard who goes by the name Eric Gordon. Don’t forget about their starting point guard either, who happens to be Jarrett Jack. NOLA should have drafted a point guard in my opinion. For reasons above, it’s hard for me to rank the Hornets anything above the 5th spot.
Grade for Unibrow: Seriously? For real? You need me to lay it out for you?
Grade for Austin Rivers: C
#21 Jared Sullinger PF
#22 Fab Melo C
With a lost to Miami once more, the “Big Three” era came to a close. With two consecutive picks at 21 and 22, the Celtics elected for Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. Both picks make a lot of sense. Since the Perkins trade, Boston has yet to find a center to replace him. After the ugly “Garnett at the 5” experiment, the franchise has finally found their C n Fab Melo. Melo is an incredibly raw prospect, but he also has a decent amount of upside. If he meets his potential, he’ll be a starting center in the league; if he doesn’t, he’s still a 7fter and can provide 6 fouls.
With Garnett reaching the wrong side of his 30’s (if Boston re-signs him), Sullinger is a solid pick. He can spend a couple of years under Garnett, learning the game. Even if KG leaves this summer, this projected lottery pick can contribute immediately. While back issues are generally chronic, I’m not too worried at this point. Sullinger is not playing for Portland after all.
In my opinion, they should have rolled the dice on Perry Jones. With Paul Pierce as the leader and Doc Rivers as the coach, Perry Jones might turn out great for the C’s.
Grade for Fab Melo: B
Grade for Jared Sullinger: B+
#28 Perry Jones III PF/SF
After losing 4 games to 1 in the NBA finals, the Thunder is facing a tough decision. With painfully harsh luxury tax rules in place, it’s hard for them to keep both Ibaka and Harden. A choice had to be made and it seems like they chose Harden. With Perry Jones falling all the way from lottery to the 28th spot, the Thunder has really taken a no-stakes bet here. As we all know, Jones has one of the biggest upsides in the draft, rivaled only by Drummond. However, surrounding all this potential are a bunch of question marks, some involving his maturity and some his knees. Picking him in the late first round is a no-brainer. With Ibaka possibly gone, Perry Jones might be a decent replacement for now. However, I am concerned with how good he will be at the 4 spot considering Jones sees himself as a 3. Furthermore, he is still very raw. This may go against the Thunder’s “win now” approach.
Grade for Perry Jones: A-
No. 2 LA Lakers
Yea, because LA always somehow gets a favorable mention on everyone’s list. They have a couple of second round picks and drafted someone. Who cares, really? It’s LA. People will always rank them highly.
No. 2, for real Portland Trailblazers
#6 Damian Lillard PG
#11 Meyers Leonard C
If there is one franchise which is constantly overshadowed by draft busts, it has to be the Blazers. First, they passed on this guy, and this guy, and this guy for Sam Bowie in 1984. Then, they passed on Kevin Durant for Greg Oden in 2007. While Oden is a completely different case from Bowie, the franchise, nonetheless, had bad luck in drafts. This is particularly evident in the fact that Brandon Roy retired because he wants to walk when he’s 50.
Anyways, the Blazers selected Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard in the draft, filling their needs for a PG and a C respectively. With Raymond Felton
underperforming being a piece of garbage last year, it is wise for them to pick up a replacement. Furthermore, Lillard is a scoring point guard who can pass. This will drastically reduce the load on LaMarcus Aldridge, who is the only player on the team who can create shots.
With Meyers Leonard, the Blazers are looking at another raw center who might just pan out to be something decent. Leonard is an athletic 7fter who can block shots and grab rebounds. He’s also more refined on offense than Melo. More importantly, unlike the other centers on the team, he’s only 20 years old. There is no way he’ll do worse than Pryzbilla and Thomas, combined.
The Blazers may just make the playoffs next year.
Grade for Damian Lillard: A
Grade for Meyers Leonard: A-
#7 Harrison Barnes SF
#30 Festus Ezeli C
After Joe Lacob took over, he promised Warriors fans that the team would make the playoffs during the 11-12 season. Well, we all know how that one turned out. The organization stopped kidding themselves and sent Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh to Milwaukee for an injured Andrew Bogut, resulting in this. Then, they tanked hard during the last month of the season so they could keep the 7th pick. Utah fans must be raging now that the Warriors picked Harrison Barnes.
What a current Harrison Barnes reminds me of is a 35 year-old Grant Hill. He can sort of score from mid- range, plays well off the ball, can grab some boards, and plays defense.What he brings to the table is a lot of “all aroundedness”. Furthermore, Barnes is a significant upgrade over Wright.
Why do I love this pick so much? It’s simply because with this pick, the team feels complete. You have Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut and David Lee in the starting lineup. Everyone plays a role. Curry as the primary facilitator, Barnes as the second option, Thompson spotting up and making cuts. When all else fails, you can throw the ball at Bogut and ask him to score a little. Plus, you have Lee cleaning up the glass and providing extra possessions on offense. On the defensive end, Bogut can clean up a whole lot of mess.
With the 30th pick, the Warriors drafted Festus Ezeli.The 6’11 big man is a decently athletic rim protector. As of current, he’s likely to be third string material, playing behind Bogut and Biedrins. The logical move will be to send him down to D-League for a couple of years and see how he pans out. Allegedly, the Warriors picked him because they really liked him in the workouts. (Duh, and / or hello)
In addition, the Warriors have taken Draymond Green in the second round. Even though I don’t know much about second round players, I did hear Green’s name popping up every now and then. Apparently, he is a jack-of-all-trades, SF/PF tweener who hustles hard. He can shoot the NBA three and is willing to do dirty work. There are always roster spots for players like him.
Either case, the future of Golden State Warriors is bright.
Grade for Harrison Barnes: A+
Grade for Festus Ezeli: C+