Grading Out The 2012 NBA Draft
Grading the NBA Draft is such a subjective thing because we tend to look at what someone has done in their career as a precursor to what they are going to do. However, as history has proven time and time again, the draft is an imperfect process and guys that were viewed as “can’t miss” sometime do and guys you did not think much of in the draft process go on to be good NBA players.
So with that in mind, here is the criteria we’ll use in assigning a grade:
#1 – Did you solve a real and material need?
#2 – Did you grab the best talent possible, because talent always wins out?
#3 – Is the team better after the picks and trades?
Trying to grade what a player will be a day after the draft is impossible, so we’ll just stick to the teams themselves. Lets look at the 2012 NBA Draft Grades:
John Jenkins (23) Mike Scott (43)
Comments: Not sure the Hawks solved many pressing needs, but they did get two very good players. The Hawks needed a center and with so many serviceable options on the board, the Hawks missed a real opportunity to get better at the five in favor of adding more of what they already have. The players are not bad, and Mike Scott has a real chance to stick and play for the Hawks, but the overall grade here has to be lower simply because they did not address their need or grab the best available player.
Jared Sullinger (21) Fab Melo (22) Kris Joseph (51)
Comments: The Celtics stayed true to their draft DNA, taking the best players regardless of what others were saying. They did not shy away from Sullinger at all and they grabbed Melo, who solves a huge problem for them. Joseph is a great value pick in the second round. Overall the Celtics did well for themselves, all three guys solve needs and all three should play as rookies. Not bad for a team that needs to fill some roster spots cheaply.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2) Jeffery Taylor (31)
Comments: For a team in desperate need of a face-of-the-franchise player, the Bobcats missed terribly with Kidd-Gilchrist, but from an add talent point of view, the Cats grabbed a very good player in MKG. Charlotte has so many guards who can create off the bounce and put up points. Kidd-Gilchrist makes them more well-rounded, providing a great defensive mindset and approach to the game. The Cats are better, but they could have solved more problems with Thomas Robinson. Jeff Taylor at 31 was a steal. Between the two picks, Charlotte got better so grading them too low wouldn’t be fair because they did a decent job improving as a basketball team.
Marquis Teague (29)
Comments: With Derrick Rose expected to miss most of the season, Teague will fill an immediate need and a long-term need. The pick was really best talent on the board. However the Bulls also filled a hole. Not sure the Bulls could not have done better without moving up, earning them a solid grade for nabbing best talent and solving a clear need.
Dion Waiters (4) Tyler Zeller (17)
Comments: Waiters at #4 is a little crazy, but if that’s your guy he would not have been there later. Waiters adds a toughness to the Cavs at both guard spots and he has a long history with Kyrie Irving, which helps the learning curve. Tyler Zeller brings a nice dimension to the Cavs and he’ll really provide depth in the front as an eventual replacement for Anderson Verajo. The reach for Waiters tosses doubt into the Cavs’ draft, especially given that he did not meet or workout for them, but given the number of smart guys in the draft that had Waiters high on their board, it makes the pick almost justifiable.
Jared Cunningham (24) Bernard James (33) Jae Crowder (34)
Comments: Given where the Mavs started in this process, they did incredibly well for themselves. All three players have a real shot at playing for Dallas and all three provide things the Mavs really need as they re-tool this summer. Starting the draft with the #17 and turning that into three very serviceable players is not only smart drafting, it’s also how you get a great grade in this process.
Evan Fournier (20) Quincy Miller: (38) Izzet Turkylmaz (50):
Comments: Really not sure how to grade this draft for Denver. They drafted guys they already have so that does not help them very much. There is a lot of talent in these picks, so there’s that, but the Nuggets needed an impact player and its not clear that they got one. Overall, this is not a bad draft, especially with Quincy Miller in the late 30′s. Time will tell how impactful this draft is, but Denver collected two more guys and sometimes that’s how you get better: having more guys to pave the way for trades and competition.
Andre Drummond (9) Khris Middleton (39) Kim English (44)
Comments: The Pistons wanted to add a big man next to Greg Monroe and they clearly did that with Andre Drummond. The Pistons don’t need Andre to be great, they just need him to do what he does and that should help both parties tremendously. Nabbing Middleton and English in the second round were great value picks and both will bring energy and athleticism to the Pistons who can be a bit slow and plodding lately. Overall, the Pistons did well for themselves. How good these guys will be remains to be seen, but the picks were solid and the Pistons are better after making them.
Golden State Warriors
Harrison Barnes (7) Festus Ezeli (30) Draymond Green (37) Ognjen Kuzmic (52)
Comments: Not sure the Warriors could have scripted a better draft for themselves. Everything lined up just as they wanted them too. Barnes and Ezeli are great picks, they solve real needs and were clearly the best talents available. Nabbing Draymond Green in the second round was another steal for the Warriors. This, overall, was a very good draft for Golden State and given the needs they filled, not sure they could have done better without trading up.
Jeremy Lamb (12) Royce White (16) Terrence Jones (18)
Comments: The last thing the Houston Rockets needed were more shooters and forwards, but with three picks in the first round Houston added three more guys they did not need. Also, they still have not addressed their center position. From a talent point of view, the Rockets got three great players. Now it is absolutely possible the Houston uses some of these guys to try and trade for a veteran player, but today this draft looks terrible for Houston, not because of the guys, but because of the fit.
Miles Plumlee (26) Orlando Johnson (36)
Comments: Miles Plumlee? Wow. Indiana went a little nuts on that pick, but the pick of Orlando Johnson in the second round was solid. Both players fill needs, and while the Plumlee pick was a tremendous reach, time will tell if the Pacers found a gem or if they just drafted a guy 20 picks too high. Based on the criteria, the Pacers did okay for themselves, but the truth is Plumlee at 26 is a head-scratcher that will take time to validate. The Pacers solved problems, but best talent is without a question no, and are the Pacers better as a team? That remains to be seen.
Los Angeles Clippers
Furkan Aldemir (53)
Comments: This is a deferred pick. Aldemir is not going to play for the Clippers. They wanted the roster spot for a veteran so this was parking the pick in a guy they know won’t come to camp. They did not solve a roster problem, they did not take the best talent and the team is not better because of the pick. Hard to grade this well, except for the fact that they did what they set out to accomplish, which is keeping the roster spot.
Los Angeles Lakers
Darius Johnson-Odom (55) Robert Sacre (60)
Comments: Call this something out of nothing. The Lakers got two guys that are absolutely Mike Brown players. DJO will bring toughness and hard-nosed defense to the Lakers, while Sacre is a great locker room guy that will make summer league and training camp fun. The odds he is on the opening day roster is super slim, but he would be a great addition if they keep him around. These were great values in terms of talent. The team is better and real roster needs were solved. Good draft for the Lakers, who started the process with very little.
Tony Wroten (25)
Comments: The Grizzlies needed a backup point guard badly, and Wroten answers that call. With the news that Memphis is likely passing on O.J. Mayo in free agency, there is now a real window for the super athletic Wroten to have a role. Overall, this is a decent pick for Memphis. It solves a real need. Wroten is a solid talent (although a suspect shooter) and the team is better after making the pick.
Justin Hamilton (45)
Comments: The HEAT desperately needed size and the ability to score in the paint and while Hamilton isn’t the first name you think of, he can certainly be those things for Miami. The fact that he has a low dollar deal makes it likely that he makes the team and from a character point of view the HEAT got a pretty solid guy. The pick does address a real need. The HEAT are not likely changing their status as a team because of the pick, but he is reasonable talent for the 45th pick..
John Henson (14) Doron Lamb (42)
Comments: The Bucks had defined center/big man as their first need in the draft and in Henson they get a pretty interesting one. Not sold Henson is going to be a star in the NBA, just too similar to bigs like Brandan Wright and Patrick O’Bryant, but he has potential and solid work ethic. Lamb at 42 is a solid pick up too. In all, the Bucks had a reasonable draft. They addressed some needs, drafted solid talent and look to be better for the process. The questions surrounding Henson as a pro make it hard to grade them high, but they did meet the criteria for a good draft.
Robbie Hummel (58):
Comments: At 58, you rarely get a real player, but Hummel will get a chance in summer league. However, the odds he plays any real role for the Wolves is unlikely. This was a ‘spend the pick because we have to’ play. Not sure there was anyone there on the board that was a better or worse prospect than Hummel, so overall this pick means nothing in the grand scheme of things. It’s great for Robbie, but beyond that the Wolves simply spent a pick they had to spend.
New Jersey Nets
Tyshawn Taylor (41) Tornike Shengalia (54) Ilkan Karaman (57)
Comments: The Nets tried to trade into the first round, but were unable to make a deal. However, they got a borderline first-round talent in Tyshawn Taylor and picked up two promising international players in Tornike Shengalia and Ikan Karaman. By scooping up guys in the second round, the Nets preserve their capspace and that’s likely more important in the grand scheme than getting a pick in the late 20′s. Not sure the Nets solved any real needs, but Taylor should make the roster and play for the Nets as a rookie. Also, not sold the Nets are a better team because of these picks. Taylor is a solid talent, as is Shengalia, so the Nets get some points for both of those guys. Overall, considering where the Nets started the night, they did get three reasonable assets and maintained flexibility so their grade reflects that.
New Orleans Hornets
Anthony Davis (1) Austin Rivers (10) Darius Miller (46)
Comments: Not sure the Hornets could have scripted a better draft. They got the three guys they wanted and all three fit how the Hornets want to play. Davis is a can’t miss stud. Rivers could excel in the Hornets’ system and Miller is a nice talent that fits as well. The Hornets grabbed great talent, addressed tons of needs and are a much better team because of it. Hard not to grade them very high.
New York Knicks
Kostas Papanikolaou (48)
Comments: Hard to grade this one. Papanikolaou is a very good player. He averaged 7 points and almost 4 rebounds in 20 minutes per game in the Greek League, which are respectable numbers for a 6’8 small forward. Knicks’ fans won’t like the pick, but at the end of the day this is a quality international player who could be good in the NBA. It remains to be seen what role he’ll play for the Knicks and that uncertainty lowers the grade, but from a ‘get good talent’ point of view, the Knicks did okay. Not sure this solves a need or makes the team better, but it is a decent enough pick at 48.
Perry Jones III (28)
Comments: The word is PJIII has a loose particle in his knee and that he’ll require surgery at some point. That, combined with questions about his focus and ability to play a role in an organized system, had him on the board at 28, which was a steal for the Thunder. Jones does not solve a pressing need (a center would have done that), but he was hands down the best talent on the board and the team could be better because of it down the line. Jones will really benefit from how the Thunder develop players and he’ll be put on a program that will help him maximize his potential. You may not see a lot of him next season, but down the road PJIII could actually have a long career because of the slide and the Thunder got a steal at 28.
Andrew Nicholson (19) Kyle O’Quinn (49)
Comments: The Magic needed size and toughness and they got both in Nicholson and O’Quinn. With Earl Clark opting out and Ryan Anderson hitting free agency, the Magic were very thin in the frontcourt to start with. Both guys could play center in spots if needed and both are relentless ‘tough guys” that love to bang, rebound and block shots. The Magic did solve some roster needs with these picks, did get quality talent with both picks and are a better team as a result. Adding a point guard would have been smart, but given that the Magic seem to want to keep Jameer Nelson, drafting a guard might have sent the wrong signal.
Moe Harkless (15) Arnett Moultrie (27)
Comments: Wow. Philly got two really good fitting pieces. The problem is Harkless and Moultrie are awfully similar to guys on the roster. There is a lot of duplication in these players, but both of them fit how Philly likes to play. The 76ers scooped up good talent. Not sold they solved any real needs, but they may have opened the door for trades. While the guys drafted won’t supplant any starters, they are a better team going forward after making these picks.
Kendall Marshall (13)
Comments: This is a really smart pick. Marshall could be a great understudy for Steve Nash if he opts to return as a free agent or he could ultimately be the replacement because the two are such similar instinctual playmakers. Marshall is not singlehandedly changing the Suns, but he will make them better and he is a good talent at #13. Overall, this is a good smart pick.
Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard (6) Meyers Leonard (11) Will Barton (40)
Comments: The Blazers did extremely well for themselves. Lillard is a great point guard, Leonard is the perfect compliment to LaMarcus Aldridge and Barton is a great replacement for Jamal Crawford. Not sure the Blazers could have done better in collecting talent, improving their team and solving material needs. Great draft for the Blazers.
Thomas Robinson (5)
Comments: Super shocked Robinson dropped to #5, but he is a lot of things for the Kings. He is a winner. He is a leader. He is an adult. The Kings have been a band of misfits for a while and TRob will bring some leadership where none has existed. The fact that the Kings now have a nasty frontcourt is simply a bonus. This really was best talent on the board. It solves a real need and the team is better for the pick. Good pick up for the Kings.
San Antonio Spurs
Marcus Denmon (59)
Comments: The Spurs are among the best in the business at finding diamond-in-the-rough guys and Marcus Denmon is exactly that. This is a great pickup for the Spurs. Not sure how much of a role he’ll play, but he’s a great talent that fits the Spurs system. He doesn’t solve any real needs, but at 59 you take what you can get and the Spurs got a solid player.
Terrence Ross (8) Quincy Acy (37) Tomislav Zubic (56)
Comments: This was actually a very solid draft for the Raptors. They got some really good players, although where they fit remains to be seen. Ross is an electric scorer who is ruthless with the rock. Acy is a monster physically and a perfect enforcer type for the Raptors. Zubic is a deferred pick, but overall this was a decent draft. The Raptors got great talent for their picks. Not sold they solved any real needs, but they are a better team as a result of the picks.
Kevin Murphy (47)
Comments: This is actually a very good pick for the Jazz. Murphy is a great shooter. He needs to work on his body a little bit, but when it comes to volume offense, Murphy is a quality pickup. He was arguably best talent on the board. Not sold it solves a real need, but the Jazz are better for the pick.
Bradley Beal (3) Tomas Satoransky (32)
Comments: Solid draft for the Wizards. Beal is the perfect counter to the “John Wall punch,” he is a super smart guard that is only going to get better and his jump shot is as textbook as we’ve seen since Ray Allen. Satoransky is a decent backup guard and could play this year. Overall, the Wizards drafted great talent. They got better because of the picks and they addressed real and material needs. Very good draft.